An aircraft from the General Air Academy (AGA) based in San Javier has crashed into the sea close to La Manga on Thursday afternoon.

According to the Murcia Emergency Coordination Centre, the crash occurred early in the afternoon 300 metres off the coast of La Manga at kilometre 6.5, in front of the Galúa hotel.

This is the third aircraft from the General Air Academy that has crashed into the Mediterranean close to La Manga peninsula in recent months.

This Eagle Patrol aircraft that was conducting a training flight and was flown by just one pilot who is feared to have perished in the accident. The pilot is understood to be Commander Eduardo Fermín Garvalena, who replaced Francisco Marín after his fatal accident last summer.

Commander Eduardo Fermín Garvalena
Commander Eduardo Fermín Garvalena

Two ships from the San Javier emergency unit are in the area, along with a team of divers which is conducting a search for survivors. This was the same team that conducted the search following the crash of the training plane September last year close to the San Javier airport.

Local Police, Civil Guard and ambulance units are stationed in front of the crash site in La Manga Beach urbanisation, following the rescue operation.

The aircraft is understood to be a C-101, the official training aircraft of the Spanish Air Force for almost 40 years and is scheduled to leave service in 2020-2021.

It has been in use by the General Air Academy since 1980, when it introduced into service the first models for the training of its pilots. It measures 12.25 meters long and reaches a maximum speed of 770 kilometres per hour, being able to rise to 12,495 meters. The aircraft is designed for aeronautical training, it is not equipped with weapons.

Following the death last summer of Commander Francisco Marín in a crash involving the C101 the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, refused to consider an investigation into the serviceability of the aircraft saying that it was completely fit for purpose.

It is expected that these aircraft, which are almost 40 years old, will be replaced next year.

COMPLETE CHRONOLOGY OF CRASHES INVOLVING THE C-101

June 13, 1984.

A C-101 fighter of the Air Force crashes near the Sotonera swamp (Huesca). The two occupants, a captain and a lieutenant, died.

August 16, 1984.

A C-101 military plane crashes in the vicinity of Puerto de Pajares, in the province of León. Its two occupants, a captain and a senior chaplain of the Air Force, died.

May 10, 1991

Two C-101 military planes, from the Matacán air base (Salamanca), collide when flying over the town of Endrinal de la Sierra, in the Sierra de Francia (Salamanca). A pilot Ensign died.

October 15, 1993

A C-101 Air Force plane crashes during a training flight, in the town of Honrubia (Cuenca). A captain of the Air Force and another of the Canadian air force were seriously injured.

January 12, 1995

A C-101 instructional plane crashes at the military base of Manises (Valencia). A captain of the Air Force died.

October 3, 1995

A C-101 crashes into the sea in the vicinity of the island of Grosa, in the Mar Menor (Murcia), while conducting an pilot training. A captain and an ensign of the Air Force died.

September 2, 2005.

A captain of the Air Force dies when the C-101 crashed into a house in Baeza (Jaén), also killing a woman and her eight-month-old daughter.

April 26, 2012.

Two soldiers die when the C-101 training aircraft they were flying in crashed near the Alcalá-Meco prison (Madrid).

August 26, 2019.

A pilot of the Air Force dies when his C-101 plane crashes in front of La Manga.

September 2019

Commander instructor Melero and Ensign student Otero,  20 years of age died  when their C-101 crashed into the Mar Menor close to Santiago de la Ribera

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