Thick fog at time of Cork crash cleared quickly, inquest told

‘I saw tip of the wing that I was sitting next to touch the ground,’ says injured passenger

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 15:52

Thick fog which contributed to a plane crash at Cork Airport - which claimed the lives of six people over three years ago - cleared within minutes of the tragedy, an inquest into the deaths heard today.

Sgt Mark Canny told the inquest into those killed in the Manx2 crash at Cork Airport on February 10th, 2011, that he got to the airport within three to four minutes of receiving a call at 9.55am about the crash, which had happened just minutes earlier.

Sgt Canny of Douglas Garda station said that within minutes of arriving on the scene of the crash on Runway 17 at the airport, thick fog which had reduced visibility to very low levels began to clear and the extent of the damage to the Fairchild SA227-BC Metro craft became evident.

AAIU Formal Report

An Air Accident Investigation Unit report into the crash which was published earlier this year identified poor operational decisions by the crew in attempting to land in poor visibility as being a significant factor in the cause of the crash.

Spanish pilot Jordi Sola Lopez (31), from Manresa in Spain, and co-pilot Andrew Cantle (27), from Sunderland, were killed, along with four of their 10 passengers when the aircraft crashed while attempting to land on the main runway.

The passengers killed were businessman Richard Noble (48), from Belfast; accountant Patrick Cullinan (45), originally from Co Tyrone but living in Belfast; businessman Brendan McAleese (39), from Co Antrim, and harbour master Michael Evans (51), from Belfast.

Today at the inquest into their deaths at the Washington Street Courthouse in Cork, Coroner for South Cork, Frank O’Connell, heard evidence on what had happened from five of the six survivors aboard the Manx2 flight, operated by Spanish operator Flightline BCN.

Englishman Mark Dickens (44) said he was sitting six rows back on the right of the plane. When he looked out as they began to descend, all he could see was thick cloud, but after a minute or so the plane pulled out of the descent and circled for five or 10 minutes.

“Then we started to descend again but then we were ascending again, and the captain came back to speak to us -he had a Spanish accent - and said thick fog was reducing visibility down to 200 metres and we would circle for a bit and then a make a decision about what to do.

“There was no door or curtain between the passengers and the cockpit - I could see the pilot and the co-pilot looking at some types of map in a ringbinder booklet - there were maps or charts ... all the passengers were chatting but there was no sense of urgency or panic.