The pilot and co-pilot of the FlyDubai flight that crashed in Russia killing all 62 on board both left behind wives who are expecting children, it has emerged.
Gulf News reported that Captain Aristos Sokratous had recently married and his wife was expecting a son. They were just days away from starting a new life in his native Cyprus.
The wife of Alejandro Cruz Alava, the plane's co-pilot, is expecting twins.
A source close to Sokratous told Gulf News that he had handed in his notice to flydubai and was to take up a job with Ryanair this week.
Flight FZ981, from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don, was expected to be one of 38-year-old Sokratous' final flights with the airline but the plane crashed and exploded in a fireball while trying to land in strong winds at the southern Russian city on Saturday.
Cruz Alava, 37, moved to Dubai in 2014 to work for FlyDubai, having flown for two airlines in Spain. He was a native of La Laguna, Tenerife, where he had flown for local airlines Binter and Naysa, Gulf News reported.
Sokratous, who according to his Facebook page had a love of motorcycles and racing, trained at Oxford Aviation Academy and also worked for Helios Airways before it shut down following the crash of a Boeing 737 on a flight from Larnaca to Athens that killed 121 people in August 2005.
"We have all gone mad," Andreas Christodoulou, a friend of Sokratous, told Greek website star.gr. "Aristos was the best child, I cannot believe it. We are all frozen by what happened."
Officials and aviation experts said yesterday that overtired pilots and and freak winds may have combined to send the airliner nosediving into the ground.
All 55 passengers, from Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and India, and seven crew members from Cyprus, Spain, Russia, the Seychelles, Columbia and Kyrgyzstan, were killed in the powerful blast that scattered fragments of the aircraft across the airport.
Investigators quickly recovered both flight recorders from the wreckage. Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's rough equivalent of the FBI, said it was concentrating on "pilot error caused by poor weather or technical failure" as the main lines of enquiry.
Weather data citied on Russian television indicate low cloud, rain, and wind speeds of 107km/h at 500m and higher at the time of the crash.
Vasily Golybev, the governor of Rostov region, said a sudden "hurricane force" gust of wind seemed to have struck the aircraft as it was coming into land, sending it off course and causing it to slam into the ground 250m from the runway.
-Telegraph Group Ltd, staff reporter