04 AUG 2011: When an Asiana Airlines cargo plane crashed in the sea off a South Korean island last week, no one knew that one of the two pilots had taken out seven life insurance policies just a month before the so-called-accident.

The crash happened on Thursday morning when the Boeing 747-400 Freighter was flying from Incheon International Airport in South Korea to Shanghai Pudong International Airport in China.

Two crew members were on board the cargo plane when it crashed off South Korea’s Jeju Island, 107 kilometers (66.4 miles) west of the city of Jeju.

According to a news report this week, insurance industry sources as saying that one of the two pilots were cited as saying that one of the pilots had allegedly taken out seven property and life insurance policies worth about 3 ($2.73) billion Won in payouts, just a month before the fatal accident.

While it is not unusual that pilots take life insurance policies, the timing has raised questions whether the crash may have been a suicide by one of the pilots. The airline, which has refused to give out information, has not commented on the reports.

Soon after the accident, South Korea’s Transport Ministry said it suspected an in-flight cargo fire was the cause of the accident based on contact with air traffic control.

A detailed investigation will be required to determine the actual cause. The plane’s black box and voice recorders are still missing.

Pilot suicide

Major aviation accidents involving pilot suicide have occurred in the past. In October 1999, a total of 217 people were killed when the Relief First Officer aboard an Egypt Air flight was said to have deliberately caused the Boeing 767-366ER to crash into the Atlantic Ocean, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.

In December 1997, 104 people were killed when SilkAir Flight 185 crashed into the Musi River near Palembang, Indonesia.

While Indonesian authorities were unable to determine a cause, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said one of the pilots deliberately caused the Boeing 737-36N aircraft to crash.

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Jen Savedra

Jen Savedra is the founder and editor in chief of Travel Industry Today with  a long career and considerable experience in various sectors of travel and tourism. She is dedicated to producing a publication that differentiates itself from the pack. One that pulls no punches, and - along with being a forum for news and ideas - is easy to navigate and always fun to read.

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