Cause of fa­tal Tiger Moth crash re­mains a mys­tery

Western Daily Press - - News - RICHARD BACHE [email protected]­plc.com

AVINTAGE Tiger Moth that crashed killing two peo­ple was “corkscrew­ing” and sound­ing “aw­ful and mis­fir­ing” in the sec­onds be­fore it hit the ground, a wit­ness said.

But the cause of the ac­ci­dent re­mains un­clear af­ter an of­fi­cial re­port could not get to the bot­tom of the tragic in­ci­dent.

The Air Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Board yes­ter­day re­leased its find­ings into the fa­tal ac­ci­dent in Dorset in Au­gust 2017.

There was no ev­i­dence that the air­craft, which was built in 1935, had suf­fered an en­gine fail­ure be­fore the ac­ci­dent, the re­port found.

Ex­pe­ri­enced pi­lot Christo­pher Har­vey Nicholls, 64, from Farn­ham, and pas­sen­ger Peter Ge­of­frey Stacey, 67, died in the ac­ci­dent.

The “air ex­pe­ri­ence” flight was the first of the day from Comp­ton Ab­bas Air­field.

The air­craft was re­turn­ing to the air­field af­ter the pi­lot had re­ported prob­lems with the en­gine shortly af­ter take-off.

The plane suf­fered mas­sive fire dam­age as well as the crash im­pact, which added to the chal­lenge faced by the ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The re­port said the pi­lot had be­gun his ca­reer in the Royal Air Force and had been a com­mer­cial pi­lot fly­ing Boe­ing 747s.

He had more than 22,000 hours of fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The re­port con­cluded that “the ac­ci­dent oc­curred when the pi­lot was at­tempt­ing to re­turn to the air­field af­ter re­port­ing a rough run­ning en­gine.

“Dam­age sus­tained dur­ing the ac­ci­dent pre­vented an as­sess­ment of the mag­ne­tos, ig­ni­tion sys­tem and car­bu­ret­tor. A prob­lem with any one of these could have caused the re­ported symp­toms. The pos­si­bil­ity of car­bu­ret­tor ic­ing could not be dis­counted.

“At about 200ft above ground level, the air­craft pitched sud­denly and sig­nif­i­cantly nose-down be­fore de­scend­ing in a left turn from which it did not re­cover be­fore strik­ing the sur­face of a crop field.

“The rea­son for this fi­nal ma­noeu­vre was not de­ter­mined.”

The AAIB also re­leased a re­port yes­ter­day as to why a com­mer­cial aero­plane went skid­ding off the runway at Bris­tol Air­port just be­fore Christ­mas 2017.

A re­port has found that a pi­lot mis­tak­enly put on the emergency brake rather than the speed brake while land­ing at the air­port.

The ac­ci­dent, on De­cem­ber 22, 2017, dis­rupted the fes­tive get­away for thou­sands of trav­ellers.

The re­port found that the BMI flight skid­ded off the runway and came to a halt af­ter trav­el­ling 120 me­tres along the grass.

It found that con­trol was lost by the pi­lot as the emergency brake was mis­tak­enly se­lected rather than the speed brake.

The AAIB noted that the levers for both brakes were “of sim­i­lar shape and sited close to each other” in the cock­pit of the Em­braer 145 air­craft in­volved in the in­ci­dent. It stated that a high work­load due to mul­ti­ple ra­dio in­ter­rup­tions con­trib­uted to the mis­take go­ing un­no­ticed.

None of the 22 pas­sen­gers or three crew on the flight from Frankfurt were in­jured, but the air­craft’s land­ing gear was bro­ken and its wheel rims and tyres were dam­aged.

At least 60 flights were can­celled or di­verted while spe­cial­ist equip­ment was brought in to re­move the plane, which had dug into the grass.

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