Dubai 'jetman' crash: Vincent Reffet's parachute didn't deploy, says GCAA report
The video of the crash appeared to show him lose control and go into a backflip.
One of Dubai's famed "jetman" pilots killed in a crash in November failed to deploy the emergency parachute attached to the winged engines strapped to his back, an investigative report released on Thursday found.
Vincent Reffet, 36, of Annecy, France, was an “experienced professional skydiver” and jetwing pilot, the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority said, adding that the video from the November 17 crash appeared to show him lose control and go into a backflip hovering some 240 meters (800 feet) off the ground.
Such backflips are common when wearing the wings and recoverable if the pilot thrusts forward through the flip, the report said. Reffet had experience coming out of those flips in the past, but at higher altitudes.
“The risks of the 800-feet hover was discussed during the pre-flight briefing and, as a risk mitigation, it was decided to abort the flight and to deploy the pyro-rocket emergency parachute should the jetwing become uncontrollable,” the report said. “The investigation could not determine why the pilot did not choose this mitigation action.”
Video from a camera attached to his helmet showed the parachute only deployed after he crashed into the ground. Prior to that, his hands moved as though he thought he could enter again into a hover, the report said. The jetwing showed no mechanical problems before or during the flight, investigators said.
The training flight was to simulate a takeoff from the ground, a triangular flight and a jet-powered landing on a 800-foot platform, the report said. A helicopter at that altitude was to simulate the platform, but investigators found no sign it played a part in the crash.
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