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Plane crash Baltic Sea: riddles about ghost flight – salvage very complex and expensive

Created: 10/23/2022 12:22 p.m

Many questions about the Cessna 551 that crashed in the Baltic Sea are still open. The current status of the plane crash at a glance.

  • On Sunday, September 4, the Cessna 551, registration OE-FGR, crashed into the Baltic Sea off the coast of Latvia.
  • According to the Latvian authorities, all occupants of the crashed plane died.
  • The wreck was located at a depth of 60 meters. Now it is being discussed whether and if so, how the wreck should be salvaged.
  • The private plane was on its way from Spain to Cologne. But the ghost flight only ended in the Baltic Sea.
  • The pilot of the unfortunate machine is the well-known Cologne carnival enthusiast Peter Griesemann. His wife Juliane, daughter Lisa and her boyfriend were also on board.
  • This text is continuously updated.

Cologne/Riga – On Sunday, September 4th, a private jet crashed into the Baltic Sea off the Latvian coast. This is a Cessna 551 with the registration number OE-FGR. The plane was actually on its way from Spain to Cologne. It is currently unclear how the accident could have happened. The investigation is ongoing. Many questions are still open. What is already known and what is still unclear: The overview.

Die Flugroute der abgestürten Cessna 551 mit dem Kennzeichen OE-FGR. In einem Kreis: Die Cessna 551 Citation IISP (C551) mit der Registrierung D-IRUP (MSN: 551-0572) landet am Flughafen Hamburg Airport.
On September 4, a Cessna crashed into the Baltic Sea. Many questions are still unanswered (symbol image) © Flightradar24/dpa & Kevin Hackert/Imago
  • Baltic Sea plane crash: what happened?
  • Plane crash in the Baltic Sea: the current status?
  • Baltic Sea plane crash: what’s next?
  • Baltic Sea plane crash: All information about the occupants
  • The flight path of the Cessna 551 with the registration OE-FGR

Cessna 551: what happened? After a random flight over Europe – a ghost plane crashes in the Baltic Sea

The private plane was en route from Jerez (southern Spain) to Cologne/Bonn Airport on Sunday 4 September. However, the Cessna 551 with the registration “OE-FGR” never arrived there. Communication with the aircraft broke off shortly after take-off – after the pilot reported pressure problems in the cabin.

This even launched interceptors from France, Germany and Denmark. According to the Swedish broadcaster SVT, the flight safety expert Hans Kjäll also suspects that there could have been a pressure drop in the cabin of the aircraft, after which the occupants had become unconscious. This is also confirmed by the fact that the interceptors did not detect any movement in the cockpit of the Cessna. However, the official cause of the crash has not yet been determined. The investigation is still ongoing. It is not yet clear what really happened during the flight in the Cessna 551.

However, one thing is clear: the private jet flew by autopilot over Spain, France and Luxembourg, among other places. At 5:45 p.m. (German summer time) then also in German airspace. A few minutes later, the Cessna flew over the destination airport in Cologne – without landing. Instead, we continued north-east. After several course changes, the machine finally circled over the Baltic Sea at 7:40 p.m. (German summer time), a few minutes later contact was lost completely: the Cessna 551 crashed into the sea at 7:44 p.m. west of the Latvian port of Ventspils.

Plane crash in the Baltic Sea: the current status?

Many questions are still unclear about the mysterious plane crash off the Latvian coast. After several pieces of debris, more wreckage of the Cessna and personal belongings of the occupants were found by the Latvian emergency services days after the crash. The actual wreck is about 60 meters deep. This officially marks the end of the search. However, the investigations continue. It is currently being clarified how the wreck can be recovered.

But that is anything but easy. The salvage of the wreck is extremely complex and expensive. “We located the wreck at a depth of around 60 meters. Divers can only last a few minutes at this depth to attach chains to private aircraft,” says Germout Freitag, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU). Whether the wreckage will be recovered or not is currently being discussed with the relatives of the aircraft occupants, the spokesman continued.

Since, contrary to expectations, the plane did not have a flight recorder (black box) or a voice recorder, the investigations were made even more complicated. “Perhaps the switch positions in the cockpit could provide information about what happened in the air. However, it is unclear whether this is sufficient to determine the cause,” said Freitag.

There is still no trace of the four occupants of the Cessna. However, a few days after the crash, human body parts were discovered near the accident site. According to the Latvian authorities, all occupants of the crashed plane died.

According to the finds so far during the search operation in the sea, this is the first conclusion to be drawn about the moment of impact. “The speed at the time of impact was very high and the plane broke into many small pieces,” said the head of the Latvian Sea Rescue Coordination Center Peteris Subbota.

Cessna crash in the Baltic Sea: what’s next?

Since Thursday, September 8th, German authorities have been leading further investigations into the plane crash. But what’s next? What are the next steps? 24RHEIN spoke to the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU). Many questions remain unanswered, including how the Cessna crash could have happened.

This is exactly what is being investigated now. For this purpose, several employees of the BFU were temporarily in Latvia and investigated on site. One problem with the investigation, however, was that the private jet had neither a flight recorder (black box) nor a voice recorder. This makes the investigation difficult. Nevertheless, it should be clarified what exactly happened in the Cessna 551.

The next step: The wreckage is to be recovered from a depth of 60 meters. “The agreements are currently underway,” it said on Tuesday, September 13th. At the same time, the examinations of the salvaged aircraft parts, private belongings of the occupants and body parts are currently underway. “The DNA tests are currently underway,” explains the BFU spokesman. “During the rescue, you have to check whether there are still people on the plane.”

A first interim report should be available at the end of November. “The final report will be at the end of the year.” Normally, the investigation should be completed within a year, the BFU spokesman continues.

Plane crash Baltic Sea: All information about the occupants – Peter Griesemann and family

Four occupants are said to have been in the Cessna 551. The identity of the passengers has not yet been officially confirmed by the authorities. However, it should be about Peter Griesemann, his wife Juliane, daughter Lisa and her friend. This is confirmed by the Griesemann Group, where the company founder was. The Blue Sparks, of which Griesemann was President from 2014 to 2018 and most recently Honorary President, confirmed that it should be about Griesemann.

The Cologne entrepreneur was considered a constant in the Cologne carnival. One mourns the 72-year-old and the other three inmates – his wife, daughter and their partner, shared the blue sparks on Friday. The four were “taken in an incredibly tragic way in a plane crash.”

“The word ‘thank you’ is too small for his work and everything that Peter Griesemann has done for the Blaue Funken, the Bauverein and the carnival,” says the emotional obituary of the traditional corps. “He significantly shaped society and his footprint will remain forever.” Finally, the Blue Sparks wrote, “We have nothing left but deep sadness.” Finally, on September 17, a large funeral service took place in Cologne Cathedral. Hundreds of people came.

Peter Griesemann: Pilot of the crashed Cessna and former Funken President

► He was President of the Blue Sparks from 2014 to 2018.

► From 2000 to 2014 he was Senate President of the Traditional Corps.

► Most recently, he was appointed Honorary President of the Carnival Society.

► Griesemann also campaigned for the expansion of the Funken Tower in Cologne and was a board member of the festival committee.

“Peter has moved a lot in the city over the decades as an entrepreneur and as a carnival participant. Peter only had expertise and entrepreneurial spirit, he also had a lot of heart for the people and the Fastelovend,” explains Christoph Kuckelkorn, President of the Cologne Carnival Festival Committee.

In addition to Kuckelkorn and the Cologne Carnival Festival Committee, many other carnival societies sent their condolences. Cologne’s Mayor Henriette Reker also made a statement. This is reported by the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger . Among other things, she wrote the following sentences to the bereaved: “I received the news of the tragic accident with honest dismay and it fills me with great dismay. My very heartfelt condolences on your immeasurable loss.”

Baltic Sea plane crash: The flight path of the Cessna 551 with the registration OE-FGR

  • Editor’s Note: The time is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). In Germany / Central Europe, UTC+1 is standard time and UTC+2 is summer time.
  • Sunday, September 4th:
  • 12:56 (UTC): The Cessna with registration OE-FGR takes off from Jerez (Spain)
  • 1 p.m. (UTC): The private plane flies towards Germany
  • 1:44 p.m. (UTC): The Cessna flies west of Madrid
  • 15:12 (UTC): The plane flies over Paris (France) after a short route change
  • 15:40 (UTC): Pilot Peter Griesemann flies into German airspace for the first time near Gemünd in the Eifel region, but then returns to Luxembourg and Belgium.
  • 15:45 (UTC): The Cessna flies into German airspace near Hellenthal (south of Aachen).
  • 15:51 (UTC): The plane flies over Troisdorf and Cologne Airport. However, instead of changing course and beginning the approach for landing, the Cessna flies north-east.
  • 16:41 (UTC): The Cessna flies over Stralsund, the island of Rügen and heads for the Baltic Sea.
  • 16:53 (UTC): The plane is flying over the island of Bornholm (Denmark)
  • 17:37 (UTC): The course changes. The Cessna makes a right turn.
  • 17:40 (UTC): the machine is circling over the Baltic Sea
  • 17:44 (UTC): There is no longer any contact with the Cessna. The plane crashed
  • What: flightradar24

(jw with dpa) This text is continuously updated.

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