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Fatal SDF plane crash caused by autopilot switch mistake: report

Wreckage of a Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) reconnaissance plane is seen on a mountainside in Hokuto, Hokkaido, on May 16, 2017. (Mainichi)

The May crash of a Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) aircraft in the mountains of Hokuto, Hokkaido, was caused by the pilot mistakenly disengaging the autopilot while talking to the ground controller, the GSDF announced on Sept. 13.

    All four crew on the LR-2 reconnaissance plane were killed in the accident.

    The crash report states that the aircraft went into a steep dive after the autopilot was switched off, but the crew noticed too late as the plane was flying through cloud at the time. The report concludes that "there was no problem with the aircraft itself," and the GSDF plans to resume flights of its remaining six LR-2s on Sept. 15.

    According to the GSDF, the plane lost in May crashed in the mountains about 30 kilometers west of Hakodate Airport.

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