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Fatal Accidents in the UK 2011

AEROPLANES

18 December
Taylorcraft BC12D: G-BVXS & Pitts S2C:  G-IICI: Leicester
A mid air collision occurred when both aircraft were on the crosswind leg at Leicester Airport soon after the Taylorcraft had taken off and as the Pitts joined the circuit from the northeast which had including aerobatic practice.  The Taylorcraft, which had made all the correct radio calls, became uncontrollable after the Pitts propeller had damaged the tail area, killing the pilot when it struck the ground.  The Pitts was able to make a forced landing ending up on a road bordering the southern boundary of the airfield, the two occupants escaped uninjured.  The visibility was 40 to 45 km and the sun at 14.00 hrs was about 10 deg above the horizon.  The 1946 Taylorcraft was approx wings level at the time of the collision whilst the Pitts was banked approx 30 deg to the left almost on the same heading as the Taylorcraft.  The Pitts pilot had not done a standard overhead join due to his assessment of the cloud base to the north of the airfield and his situational awareness may have been improved by keeping the radio volume to a level at which calls from other aircraft in the circuit can be heard.  Contributory factors were the poor forward visibility from the Pitts, the lack of contrast between the Taylorcraft and the surrounding countryside and the low sun.  The Taylorcraft pilot had 640 hours with 150+ on type and the Pitts pilot 948 with 150 on type. 
(AAIB Bulletin 11/2012)

12 November
Piper PA28-181 Archerll: 27nm west of Alderney
The aircraft with one passenger was returning to its home base Alderney from Lee on Solent, Hants.  Passenger evidence indicates that there was an electrical failure resulting in loss of transponder, radio and GPS.  Radar recordings showed there were errors in the track flown to Lee on Solent and that the return flight back to Alderney was to the right of track.  The pilot had been relying on GPS with no evidence that the wind conditions had been taken into account which would also have blown him to the right of track.  When land did not appear, the pilot descended below cloud into visibility of between 6 and 10 km and decided to ditch near a ship.  There was up to 110 minutes of fuel remaining.  The ditching was well executed, the pilot’s wife had the liferaft on her lap, both were wearing lifejackets.   As the aircraft filled with water she left the aircraft but the pilot failed to leave before it sank.  Although the raft was not inflated the valise was unzipped so that the colour would assist rescue by a launch from the ship; she suffered from the cold water.  Subsequent tests on a similar aircraft showed that there as a difference in compass reading of up to 12 degrees when the alternator was OFF.  The 79 year old pilot had flown approx 150 hours. 
( AAIB Bulletin 10/2012)     

16 October
Piper PA28-140: G-BBEF: Nr Petit-Beauregarde, Switzerland
The aircraft had departed from Full Sutton on 5th October via Amiens to Neuchâtel, Switzerland.  The 29 year old pilot had planned to return on 10th October but had cancelled it due to bad weather.   On the 16th photos taken at Neuchâtel showed a sunny foreground but with cloud in the background over the Jura Mountains.   The aircraft took off and after routine messages with ATC a call was received that he ‘could not see anything’.  The aircraft crashed on the edge of a wood 4,625 ft amsl killing both occupants.  Although damaged by fire the ASI was jammed at 188 mph (Vne is 171 mph), the rpm was jammed at 3,100 rpm (max is 2,700) and the Vsi showed 1,900 to 2,000 ft/min down.  The aircraft had crashed in a turn banked at almost 45 deg due to spatial disorientation when the pilot lost visual reference.  Although not a factor in the accident, it was noted that the Airworthiness Review Certificate had expired 44 days previously. The pilot had flown a total of 339 hours with 173 on type.  
(Swiss Accident Investigation Board Report 2175 dated 16th May 2013). 

2 September
Bolkow 208C Junior: Peterborough Sibson, Cambs
The pilot was on his first flight from Long Marston to Sibson.  He had phoned Sibson to make general enquiries but did not say he was definitely coming so was not given the usual briefing.  The UK AIP includes the following ‘Line of HT cables 130 – 160ft aal 230 – 261 ft amsl running north-northwest/south-south east 0.49 nm.  The aircraft was on final approach when it struck the uppermost cable of the hard-to-see power transmission lines and fell vertically killing the pilot.  It was apparent from eye witnesses and GPS data that the pilot was on an approach path to the start of the prepared surface rather than the displaced threshold 259 metres into the runway.  He may have been distracted by his closeness to a departing Cessna 208 Caravan.  The flight guide the pilot was using did not give specific details on the airfield diagram of the power lines or the displaced threshold.  The pilot had flown 675 hours with 22 on type. 
(See AAIB Bulletin 9/2012)

29 July
Piper PA38 Tomahawk: Nr Barton Airfield, Greater Manchester
The aircraft was taking off at near maximum take off weight from Manchester Barton’s 621 metre grass runway using a ‘short field take off’ technique. At approx 200 ft the aircraft suffered a rapid and significant loss of engine power. The pilot did not appear too have lowered the nose and continued in a climbing attitude until it stalled and rolled to the left before crashing between two houses and burning. The 59 year old pilot died from his burns injuries, the passenger survived. Subsequent flight tests showed that during a 61 kt short field t/o, unless the nose was lowered, there was a maximum of only 3 seconds between power loss and stall with a height loss of at least 350 ft. The cause was considered most likely to be stiffness and wear of the fuel selector rod resulting in an intermediate position that reduced fuel flow on take off. Although the pilot had a pre-existing medical condition that could have caused incapacitation, it is thought unlikely to have been a factor. The pilot had flown 426 hours with 302 on type as well as 406 glider launches and had flown two instructional flights, including EFATO, 6 weeks prior to the accident.
(See AAIB Bulletin 04/2012).

4 July
Vans RV-6A/Diamond DA40: Shoreham Airport
While on the downwind leg the RV-6A collided at Shoreham with a Diamond DA40D Diamond Star which was rejoining the circuit on the crosswind leg.  The RV6 was rendered uncontrollable and crashed killing the pilot, the Diamond Star lost it’s propeller and with a badly holed wing leading edge landed safely on a non-active runway.  While flying at right angles to each other the DA40 propeller had struck and removed the RV6 fin and rudder and the tip of the left tailplane including elevator and mass balance.  Neither crew saw each other and were following the correct circuit pattern and height.  The crew of the DA40 while on the downwind leg were not aware of that the RV6 was approaching on an almost constant bearing from the right hand side. The RV6 pilot had over 20,000 hours with unknown on type and the DA40 pilot had 3,450 hours with 32 on type.  
(AAIB Bulletin 6/2012) 

17 June
Piper PA39 Twin Comanche: G-AYZE -  Peille between Monaco & Menton, France
The aircraft took off from Lucques, Italy for Troyes, France on a mixed VFR/IFR Flight Plan intending to change to IFR at waypoint LANKO.  About 50 minutes later he contacted the FIS controller at Nice stsing he was at 2,000 ft and asked to change to IFR at AMFOU waypoint instead of LANKO.  He was asked to fly towards this waypoint via the Nice VOR then via that of Cannes.  About 8 minutes later the controller told the pilot he had lost radar contact.  The aircraft it high speed in a climb struck the slopes of Mount Agel about 2 minutes later at an altitude of 2,700 ft killing both occupants. The highest peak in the area is 4,134 ft.  The pilot held a CPL(A) IR licence and had flown a total of 1,805 hrs with 16 hours on type in the previous month.  The accident was due to the pilot flying under VFR in IMC conditions at an altitude lower than the terrain.  Controllers do not know the Met conditions local to the aircraft and when flying VFR pilots must maintain VFR regardless of any clearance given by controllers.  It should be noted that the UK Accredited Representatives comments on clearances, phraseology and misinterpretation were not taken into account as BEA did not agree and were not included in the Final Report.  
(BEA Accident Report dated Oct 2012)

15 May
DH82A Tiger Moth: Nr Witchampton, Dorset
The aircraft took off from Compton Abbas, Dorset on a local pleasure flight, ground observers saw the aircraft pull up into a loop from about 1,500 ft during which it entered a spin from there was insufficient room to recover from the subsquent spin.  The passenger seated in the front cockpit was seriously injured and died later the same day in hospital and the pilot was seriously injured.   The pilot had not had formal aerobatic training and only had limited experience of spin recovery in a Cessna 172 and did not consider that a loop was an aerobatic manoeuvre.  The pilot had 210 hours of which 41 were on type. 
(AAIB Bulletin 6/2012)  

5 May

Zenair CH 601HD Zodiac: G-CBDT: Strip SE of Penrith, Cumbria
The pilot was returning to his private strip 19 nm southeast of Penrith after an overnight visit to Caernarfon. When the pilot had not returned by early evening, his wife walked to the adjacent strip whew she found the wreckage to one side of the strip. The pilot had been killed on impact. The strip is about 460 metres long at an elevation of 980 ft amsl and is surrounded on all sides by high ground up to 2,170 ft. Detailed inspection of the Rotax 912ULS engined aircraft did not reveal any technical defects that may have contributed to the aircraft striking trees adjacent to the strip. It is possible the pilot was faced with demanding wind conditions and was attempting a late go-around. He had a heart condition that meant he could only fly solo or with another pilot. The autopsy indicated that the pilot had taken O-desmethyltramadol or tramadol used to treat moderate or severe pain and unlikely to be compatible with piloting an aircraft. His GP had not prescribed it and his family did not know why he might have taken it. He had flown a total of 591 hours with 93 on type; his Medical Declaration was probably 3 years out of date.
(See AAIB Bulletin 12/2011)

28 April
Russian Registered
Yak-52: Langford, Nr Maldon, Essex
The aircraft took off on the third day of a thee-day formation flying school.  During a tailchase and wingover the aircraft was seen to reach a low speed and apparent high angle of attack before rolling and yawing into an inverted spin of several turns prior to a late recovering into an erect dive at low height.  It impacted a lake and sank killing the instructor and student.   The manoeuvre had been flown at about 1,800 ft agl.  The student was not proficient in handling departures from controlled flight and there was no evidence he had received training in inverted spins and recovery, whilst the instructor had not received training close to the Yak-52 limits, in spin recovery in the type or in inverted spinning in any aircraft type.  Another instructor stated that a 3-turn inverted spin and accurate recovery requires about 2,500 ft.   It was not possible to determine which of the student or instructor was handling the controls at the wingover.  The presentation of the turn coordinator and gyro horizon differed from those of typical western aircraft.  The pilot had 673 hours with 66 on type. 
(AAIB Bulletin 9/2012)    

13 March
Jodel D117A: G-ASXY: Grovesend Nr Swansea
During a flight from Cardiff Airport to Haverfordwest airfield, while cruising at 2,500 ft the Continental C90 engine lost power and the pilot attempted a forced landing. It overshot the selected field, clipped the top of trees and the left wing struck a power cable obscured by the trees. This rotated the aircraft about its left wing and it crashed inverted. The pilot was killed and the co-pilot was seriously injured. No fault was found to account for the loss of power, the most likely cause being carburettor icing. This resulted in an idle rpm of approx 1,000 in place of the usual 750 – 800, the extra thrust contributing to overshooting the selected field. The pilot had a total of 1,138 hours with 687 on type.
(See AAIB Bulletin 12/2011)

MICROLIGHTS

23 September
Eurostar G-DDD: Nr Villemur-sur-Tarn, France
The inverted wreckage of the Eurostar was discovered in a field on the edge of woodland near Villemur-sur-Tarn, about 20nm north of Toulouse. After a search the body of the 52 year old British pilot was found some distance from the wreckage. The local newspapers reports that there was a track suggesting an uncontrolled landing and it is not known whether he had been disoriented and got lost in the forest or had been caught in the trees. The medical and technical aspects are being investigated. The aircraft was owned by a syndicate in Southend.

HELICOPTERS

12 November
Hughes 369E - G-WOOW: Nr Andratx, Mallorca, Spain
The helicopter took off from Son Bonet airport close to Palma International Airport and flew north west before following the coast to the south west near Andratax.  While hovering at about 260 ft agl over a valley site of interest to the occupants it became unstable and descended almost vertically making two complete turns to the right about its vertical axis.  After the second turn it crashed on the side of the mountain and was destroyed by fire killing the two occupants.  The pilot who was friendly with the owner had regularly flown it in previous months and was estimated to have a total of 40 hrs on type and a total of 110 hours.  Eyewitnesses and video showed there was little wind in the area with some gusts, optimal light and visibility with no clouds. In the weight and temperature conditions the out of ground effect ceiling was about 9,000 ft, however with zero speed and at  the height it was at, it was well inside the ‘avoid area’.  The likely cause was loss of control due to the tail rotor effectiveness phenomenon which caused it to yaw sharply and enter a vortex ring state which, under power, made it lose lift and descend rapidly.  The pilot’s lack of experience prevented him from better handling the emergency.  Forensic results showed the pilot’s blood alcohol content was incompatible with flying, however, the possibility that some or all of this alcohol may have been produced post mortem as part of normal decomposition,could not be excluded.  Although not relevant, the 50 hour maintenance check should have been performed 16 hours before the accident. 
(Spanish CIAIC Bulletin 5/2012 ReportA-045/2011).       

24 July
Robinson R44 Raven 11: Marhamchurch, Nr Bude, Cornwall
The pilot was flying from his base near Blagdon just south of Bristol Airport to Padstow, Cornwall. When 24 nm NW of Newquay Airport the radar track showed the helicopter to have turned onto a NE track and started to climb. After calling Newquay Radar he requested help saying he was lost in cloud and was given a transponder code which he read back correctly and selected. The helicopter was seen by witnesses to appear out of a 500 ft cloud base in a steep nose down attitude at high speed followed by a possible attempt to recover. It crashed in a field killing the pilot and was consumed by fire. The site was about 180ft amsl. Weather conditions had been good at the point of departure but deteriorated in the Boscastle – Bude area with low cloud, poor visibility and hill fog. It was not possible to determine what weather forecasts the pilot viewed prior to departure. The Technical log had not been updated for a month prior to the accident consequently there was no information on recent defects or maintenance. The 45 year old pilot had flown 285 hrs with 221 on type.
(See AAIB Bulletin 5/2012)

8 March
Aerospatiale SA341G Gazelle - reg HA-LFB: Nr Honister Slate Mine, Keswick, Cumbria
The Hungarian registered helicopter took off at night on the owners routine commute from a site near the Slate mine in the addle of the Honister Pass to his home south of Cockermouth.  His partner had told him on the phone that it was blustery with good visibility.  The helicopter crashed on high ground 330 m east of the landing pad with low airspeed, a high rate of descent and yawing to the right.  The aftercast wind was estimated to be 35 kts producing considerable turbulence and up and down draughts with varying amounts of cloud from 300 ft agl to 1,700 ft agl.  The 45 year old pilot was not qualified to fly at night and it was not possible to determine if canopy misting was a factor.  No current pilot, engine or airframe logbooks were found in the UK and although not a factor the accident many irregularities in the helicopter’s maintenance and airworthiness were identified including an engine overhauled by an unapproved facility in Serbia and issued with  counterfeit documentation.  It was concluded that during a flight at night in challenging conditions control was lost or the pilot became disorientated.
(See AAIB Bulletin 10/2012)

GYROPLANES

28 April
G-CGTI: Magni M24C: Nr Old Sarum Airfield, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Just after taking off on a local flight the left gull-wing door of the two seat side by side gyroplane opened and the pilot radioed that he was returning. The door had appeared to be closed at the start of the take-off run but may not have been correctly latched. It was seen to continue round the circuit and after turning on base leg it descended rapidly and made tight right turn before it rolled to the left over a field, crashed and bust into flames killing the pilot. It is probable the pilot held the door closed with one hand while flying with the other. To latch the door in flight the pilot would have to retard the throttle to enable the door lock lever to be moved sufficiently aft in order to withdraw the shoot bolts from the locating blocks. In hot weather it is normal practice to taxi with the door unlatched to improve ventilation. The manufacturer is aware of seven occasions of doors opening without pilots experiencing any adverse handling effects. The 51 year old pilot had 125 hours with 25 on type.
(See AAIB Bulletin 10/2011)

HOT AIR BALLOONS

1 January
G-BVXF: Cameron o-120 Hot Air Balloon: Midsomer Norton, Somerset
The pilot was attempting to climb to an altitude of 6.000 metres (19,700 ft) towards his BBAC Gold Badge. Having reached an altitude of 21,000 ft the balloon descended for about 80 seconds at 1,500 ft/min before entering a rapid descent of about 5,500 ft/min from which it did not recover. In the latter stages it was seen in a collapsed streamered state until impact, killing both occupants. There was a post impact fire. Both crew were using a supplementary oxygen system feeding nasal cannulae. There was no evidence of a technical defect in the balloon or of an in-flight structural failure. It is likely the accident occurred due to some combination of mishandled parachute valve, inexperience of lock-tops, inexperience of a large balloon at high rated of ascent, degraded human performance due to some level of hypoxia and pressure to descend as the approved flight level was about to be breached. The 42 year old pilot had flown 194 hours in balloons.
(See AAIB Bulletin 10/2011)

AIR SHIPS

12 June
American Blimp Corp. A-60+ - G-?:  Reichelsheim Airfield, Germany  
The Goodyear Branded helium filled blimp was conducting a series of sight seeing flights from Reichelsheim.  It was returning in zero wind conditions at about 20.15 after about a two hour flight, the pilots third of the day, when it struck the ground very hard about 470 metres from the mooring mast and slid for about 30 metres.  The passengers warned the pilot of the smell of fuel with fire in the aft part of the gondola.  The three passengers who weighed about 250 kg, as advised by the pilot, disembarked as the ground crew ran to assist.  With flames by now 60 ft high, the airship rose into the air and the ground crew were unable to reach the mooring ropes and it rose to 300 ft or so and was burnt out before crashing 400 metres from the initial touch down point.  The 52 year old pilot who had flown blimps since 1985 and had 12,330 blimp hours was killed.   On the next to last flight a tail strike had resulted in the loss of the wheel on the rudder.  The heavy impact had damaged the gascolator with arcing from the electrical system in the vicinity providing the likely ignition source.  The airship was operating above the maximum allowable static heaviness the pilot extended his final approach so as to reduce the approach speed, the lack of buoyancy and still air made for a difficult landing situation.  Owing to a sticky radio transmitter button, the pilot had been texting the ground team.  The fuel leak could have been avoided if the pilot had, as recommended in the Operating Manual, closed the fuel valve after the hard landing. (German Authorities Report BFU CX004-11). 

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