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Fatal Accidents in the UK 2012

AEROPLANES

16 August
Piper PA38 Tomahawk: G-BODP - nr Bruera, Cheshire.
The instructor and student were doing PPL slow flight training at between 2 and 3,000 ft.  The aircraft turned rapidly through 180º and descended at a high rate crashing in a field killing both occupants.  Evidence indicated it had been in a spin to the left.  The aircraft was below maximum take off mass and the c of g was in the mid-range throughout.  The 50 year old instructor had an estimated 10,440 hours with at least 150 on type.  There were no references in his logbook which went back to 2008, to spinning.  The student had 7 hours flying experience.   Although it was not possible to determine why the aircraft entered a spin, the radar data indicated it happened when the aircraft was at a height from which recovery was unlikely.   A manufacturers revision to the POH dated May 2012 included ‘slow flight and stall manoeuvres should be initiated at altitudes high enough to fully recover by at least 4,000 ft agl to provide an adequate margin in the event of an inadvertent spin’.   This revision reached the flying school in the month following the accident. 
(AAIB Bulletin 7/2013).

21 July 
Cessna 172M: G-ROUP - Nr Perranporth
The pilot, a 55 year old ex-Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander who had served in the Falklands took off and after circling deliberately crashed into nearby Sheep Rock and was killed instantly.  He had been having marital problems with his second wife.  The Inquest Jury returned a verdict that he had taken his own life.  Note:  AAIB do not classify suicide as a fatal accident and do not include them in the AAIB Bulletin. (Source: media report of inquest)

1 July              
DH53 Humming Bird: Old Warden Aerodrome, Beds
The pilot was making a re-familiarisation and practice flight of the only remaining airworthy single seat 34 hp ABC Scorpion powered 1923 aircraft ahead of the afternoon display.  He flew to one end of the airfield where he made a series of level turns at between 6 and 800 ft before returning downwind and descending to between 150 and 200 ft and turning back towards the airfield, flying along the runway and making a level turn.  During this the left wing dropped sharply and the aircraft entered a very steeply descending left turn in an attitude beyond the vertical and crashed near the runway intersection.  Witnesses stated from the initial wing drop to striking the ground was only 2 to 3 seconds.   Witnesses stated that the effect of the wind made the aircraft appear unusually fast down wind and that as it turned upwind from their perspective it appeared almost stationary. The post crash wind was estimated to be 240/15kts with gusts to 22 to 25 kts.  The aircraft’s normal operating speed was 55 mph and its stalling speed was 42 mph.  In the wind conditions the gusts would comprise between 62% and 88% of the available speed margin.  It seems likely that the loss of control was the result of a combination of the challenging operating/handling characteristics of the DH53, the turbulence effect of the trees and the gusty wind conditions.   The pilot was qualified to fly almost all the aircraft in the Operators fleet and was a commander on passenger jets having been a military test pilot and graduate of the Empire Test Pilots’ School.  He had not flown the accident aircraft since 2010 when he performed a 10 minute air test.  Prior to that he had last flown it in 2004, and had a total of 55 minutes on the aircraft.   
(AAIB Bulletin 3/2013). 

28 January
Piper J3C Cub: Priory Farm Strip, Tibenham, Norfolk
The pilot was undergoing with an LAA Coach conversion onto tailwheel aircraft.   The aircraft was based at the strip and was familiar to both the pilot and coach.  After general handling and two sessions of circuits the 67 year old coach considered the pilot was proficient to fly it solo.  They taxied back to the threshold and the coach got out and stood between the strut and the still rotating propeller.  He closed the door, spoke to the pilot and stepped into the arc of the propeller which struck and killed him instantly.  Evidence indicated the coach was still wearing his headset and that the wind buffet from the propeller is not particularly strong. 
(See AAIB Bulletin 10/2012)    

18 January
Piper PA31-325 Navajo: G--BWHF - Nr Welshpool, Powys, Wales
The 55 year old pilot, who had retired from Commercial Air Transport in Aug 2011, was making a local flight to re-familiarise himself with the aircraft.  He was accompanied by another pilot who was not an instructor but had recent experience of flying the aircraft and was familiar with the aerodrome.   The aircraft took off from Welshpool and climbed to 3,223 ft to the south of the airfield before returning overhead Welshpool and making a descending left circuit becoming established on a wide left hand downwind leg for runway 22.  It crashed in a field on the west slope of the rising ground of Long Mountain. The first impact was with a tree elevation of 1,339 ft amsl.  The trees were probably not visible to the pilots because of cloud covering the upper slopes.   A helicopter pilot flying locally reported drizzle, patches of broken stratus at 600 – 700 ft aal and that the top of Long Mountain was in cloud.  The pilot had a total of 11,164 hours with 375 on type. 
(AAIB Bulletin 8/2012).

HELICOPTERS

6 January
Robinson R22 Beta: G-CHZN:  Ely, Cambs
The helicopter was flying at approx 1,500 ft from Manston,  Kent to Fenland, Lincs when witnesses saw it pitch and roll rapidly, the two main rotor blades separated from the rotor head and it fell to the ground killing the pilot the sole occupant.  It was caused by main rotor head divergence due to loss of rotor rpm (not followed by rapid lowering of the collective), a low-g pushover, a large abrupt control input or a combination thereof which resulted in the blades striking the airframe.  Loss of rpm could have been due to carb ice with abrupt control input for a number of reasons and the light control forces.  There was little cloud below 25,000 ft with visibility of 30 k or more with an estimated air temperature of 5 deg C and a dew point of zero.    The 50 year old pilot had 59 hours on helicopters all on type and had 4,960 hours on fixed wing, was an ATPL(A) and a flight instructor and examiner.  His PPL(H) was issued on 14 Dec 2011 and he had since flown 6 flights in the R22. 
(AAIB Bulletin 2/2013).  


MICROLIGHTS

8 December
Jabiru UL: G-VILA - Aldham, Nr Hadleigh, Suffolk
The pilot who owned the aircraft took off in reasonable weather from a grass strip at Newton near Sudbury for a local flight going as far as Felixtowe on the coast.  On his return the pilot encountered low cloud and fog and was flying as low as 150 to 300 ft and may have been diverting towards Elmsett airfield.  Near Aldham he pulled up into a cloud layer and lost visual references probably losing control into a steep dive striking a power cable before crashing approx 70 deg nose down and catching fire killing the pilot.  The 56 year old pilot had flown a total of 634 hours of which 260 were on type.  It is not known what weather information the pilot had obtained before the 48 minute flight.   Neither the police nor air ambulance helicopters were able to reach the site due to visibility and low cloud. 
(AAIB Bulletin 9/2013). 

22 August
CFM Shadow CD: G-MYUS - Nr Laverstock, Salisbury, Wilts
The paraplegic pilot planned to make a cross-country flight in the specially adapted hand controlled aircraft from his base at Old Sarum to Blandford Forum and return.  Shortly after leaving the circuit he contacted ATC and said that he would be returning, but gave no reason.   When it did not return, an aerial search located the wreckage in a field about two miles to the South East of Old Sarum.   The 79 year old pilot had been killed.  There were no eye witnesses.  Although there were showers about the visibility was around 30 km and cloud base 2,500 ft with a westerly wind of 10 to 15 kts.  The wreckage and subsequent flight tests of a similar aircraft indicated that the aircraft crashed at a relatively high impact speed for the type and was likely to have failed to recover from a spiral dive.  Incapacitation may have been caused by the condition of the pilot’s heart, which appeared to be asymptomatic and for which his NPPL licence did not require him to be tested.   The pilot had flown 164 hours, all of which were on type. 
(AAIB Bulletin 4/2013).


29 June
Jabiru UL-450: Nr Limoges, France
During a flight by a father and son from Holsworthy, Devon en-route to the south of France the aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Limoges en-route to Rodez.  Both occupants were killed.

12 May
Pegasus Quik: G-CWIK - Near Summit of Ben More, Nr Crianlarich, Stirlingshire, Scotland
The microlight was part of a group flying from Perth to Glenforsa, Mull by an experienced pilot with 826 hours (1 on type) accompanied by the owner, who was learning to fly,  in the rear seat.  They were at about 6,000 ft above scattered cloud before descending approx 2 nm E of Ben More in good visibility and clear of cloud.  They levelled off below cloud base and approx 100 ft above the summit of the 3,950 ft mountain before continuing towards it where severe turbulence recorded by the on-board video camera, was encountered in the lee of the summit.  It appeared to result in loss of control before impacting the south side of the summit killing both occupants.   The wind at the accident site was estimated to be 305 deg at 32 kts.   
(AAIB Bulletin 1/2013).

12 April
Gemini Flash llA: G-MVSV - Nr Clackmannan, Scotland
Immediately after take off the weight shift microlight entered a steep climb before the nose then dropped, probably as the result of a stall and struck the ground in a steep nose down attitude killing the owner pilot.  It was the 49 year old owner’s first flight in the microlight and there was no evidence that he had received any formal training prior to this attempt and did not have a medical declaration required prior to solo flight.  The owner had been assisted in rigging the aircraft by an experienced weight shift microlight pilot but was not an instructor.  He had flown as a passenger in a microlight with the assisting pilot but had not operated the aircraft.  The aircraft had been de-registered in Dec 2011.
(AAIB Bulletin 11/2012).

GLIDERS

4 September
Schempp-Hirth Nimbus 3: G-EENN - Portmoak Airfield, Scotlandwell
The experienced pilot was being winch launched from runway 27 but at an early stage the right wing contacted the grass, the left wing lifted and the glider briefly became airborne before cart-wheeling to the right coming to rest inverted, fatally injuring the pilot.  The 49 year old pilot owner had been gliding for more than 30 years, had 1,325 hours of which at least 100 was on type and held an FAI Gold ‘C’ Certificate and two diamonds.  It crashed 100 m from the launch point and marks in the grass showed the wing tip had rubbed for 29 metres with a heading change from around 277º to 317º.  The wind was approx 20º deg to the left varying in strength from 12 to 21 kts.  BGA advice is that if a wing touches the ground then the pilot should immediately release the winch cable.  The glider had a long wing and only a small roll angle would result in it touching the ground, the pilot who had only made one flight in the previous 3 months, may have been unaware.  Tests showed that the cable release handle was fitted in a position that meant that the pilot would not be able to keep his hand on it and still achieve full roll control authority.
(AAIB Bulletin 7/2013).    


4 August
Glaser-Dirks DG-100: G-DDFN - Nr Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland
The pilot intended to carry out a 100 km cross country towards his Silver Gliding Certificate.  He had 28 hours experience with 5 on type and a Bronze Gliding Certificate.  At the time of the accident the visibility was good and the cloud base above 2,500 ft.  Following a winch launch a witness saw the glider flying in right hand orbits before appearing to enter a steep nose down spin.  The glider recovered after an estimated two turns and height loss of 500 ft and headed away from the field before making another orbit with a gentle bank angle and may have been returning to the airfield.  It then appeared to enter another spin from which it did not recover and crashed in a crop field killing the pilot.  An independent flight test document states ‘level flight stall occurred at about 36 kts, very little buffeting preceded the stall’.   The airbrakes had been extended to some degree and may have delayed spin recovery.  The 59 year old pilot had a heart condition and toxicological analysis confirmed the presence of the pilot’s prescription medication. 
(AAIB Bulletin 7/2013).  



30 April
Schleicher ASW 24: G-CDGU - Nr Dunstable, Beds
The 65 year old pilot was on his second winch launched flight of the day in a blustery south easterly wind.  He turned down-wind and orbited before continuing downwind, made a brief steep wings level climb before levelling off at about 300 ft.  He than banked to the left before entering what was described as a spiral dive to the right and after about 270 deg impacted the ground in a steep nose-down attitude.  The 274 hour pilot, who had 10 hours on type was killed. The most likely cause was a stall and loss of control during a pull-up manoeuvre with insufficient height to recover. 
(AAIB Bulletin 2/2013).   


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