An international board of inquiry convened by the South African government has concluded that a series of errors and negligence by the Soviet pilot and crew caused a plane crash last October that took the lives of Mozambican President Samora Machel and 34 other persons.

Factors cited by the board in a report released in Johannesburg yesterday included failure to file a flight plan as required by Mozambican regulations, insufficient fuel reserves to reach the designated alternative destination, errors in instrumentation, and lack of discipline by the crew.

Following the crash of the Soviet-made Tupolev 134 on a remote hillside 500 feet inside South Africa on the night of Oct. 19, the Soviet Union and several black-governed "frontline states" in southern Africa accused the Pretoria government of luring the plane -- and Machel -- to destruction with a decoy beacon.

The board said it found no evidence of this. In the final minutes of the flight, the crew was ignoring all instrument readings and "was not following any beacons," according to South African Air Force Col. Desmond Lynch, whose evidence, based on the "black box" flight recorder, was central to the hearings.

The inquiry, headed by South African Judge C.S. Margo and including former American astronaut Frank Borman and Geoffrey Crighton Wilkinson, retired chief inspector of Britain's Aviation Accident Investigation Branch, concluded: "There is no substance in the theory that the aircraft was lured off course by means of a false beacon or any other device."

The Soviet Union, which accepted the validity of the transcript that formed the basis of the inquiry, said in January that it would not accept any conclusions drawn by the board, which it and Mozambique refused to join.

Machel, eight crew members and 25 others were killed in the crash, and an injured passenger died in a South African hospital 10 weeks later. The flight engineer and eight passengers survived.

The five Soviet crew members in the cockpit -- four of whom died on impact -- were qualified and properly licensed to operate the aircraft, the report found. They had experience flying into Maputo, the Mozambican capital and the plane's primary destination, at night. The radio navigational aids on the ground and in the aircraft were "adequate" for an instrument approach, the report said.

However, it said, the plane was prematurely turned to the right during descent, sending it on a parallel course to the Maputo approach, but into South Africa. Had it turned eight minutes later, it would have been on course for Maputo.

The report speculated that the fatal turn could have been made after a crew member "inadvertently" selected a beacon at nearby Matsapa in the state of Swaziland because the aircraft's instruments were incorrectly set up for the Maputo descent.

The descent was initiated with the automatic pilot engaged, and the craft maintained an almost constant rate of descent. "The autopilot {flew} it into the ground," according to Lynch.

"The required procedures and call-outs during the final let-down and approach were not followed. There was a breakdown in crew discipline and coordination," the report said.

The investigation focused on the cockpit voice recorder, which provided a recording of the last 30 minutes of the flight. This recording was transcribed in Zurich last November in the presence of representatives of the Soviet Union, Mozambique and South Africa, all of which agreed on the contents.

The transcript indicated, the board said, that the crew "failed to follow procedural requirements for an instrument let-down approach, but continued to descend under visual flight rules in darkness and some cloud, that is, without having visual contact with the ground, below minimum safe altitude . . . and in addition ignored the ground proximity warning system alarm."

In the last 30 minutes of the flight, the report said, the captain regaled his crew with anecdotes of previous flights he had taken with inadequate fuel reserves to allow for diversion to alternate airports.

The crew, following a muddled exchange with a Maputo air traffic controller who shared their poor command of English, the language of international civil aviation, believed that the plane was approaching a darkened Maputo airport runway and ignored instrument readings to the contrary.

Because their instruments contradicted their "mind-set," Lynch said, they distrusted them, commenting at one stage that "nothing is working."

As the controller cleared them to approach a Maputo runway -- they were many miles off course at this stage -- the captain swore and told his crew: "Keep quiet."

A few minutes before impact, the Ground Proximity Warning System siren sounded, warning the crew they were too close to the ground. The captain swore again, but failed to obey standard procedure and lift the craft out of its headlong descent on automatic pilot.

Seconds before the aircraft plowed into the hillside, the navigator shouted: "No, no, there's nowhere to go. There's no NDB's {ground navigational aids known as Non-Directional Beacons}. There's nothing."

Three seconds later, impact was recorded by a dull thud.