Inquiry identifies crew decisions as factor in Cork air crash

Tiredness and fatigue and poor rostering also factors in crash which claimed six lives

Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 01:01

A report into an aircraft crash that claimed the lives of six people at Cork Airport in 2011 has identified poor operational decisions by the crew in continuing to attempt to land in poor visibility as being a significant factor in the cause of the crash.

The report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit into the Manx2. com flight from Belfast to Cork, which crashed at Cork Airport on February 10th, 2011, on its third approach, found the aircraft continued with its approach to land in conditions below the required level of visibility.

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.

AAIU Formal Report

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.

The investigation established that a go-around was initiated during the third approach at a height of approximately 30.5m (100ft), but the aircraft then rolled to its left and then to its right, resulting in the right wing-tip striking the runway and the aircraft flipping over.

It travelled on some 189m from the impact point and came to rest on soft ground 72m from the centre of the runway, before fire broke out in both engines. Cork Airport fire service extinguished the fire very quickly.

Decision height
The 244-page report found the crew continued with their descent below the decision height (the height at which the pilots must have a certain visibility of the landing area) on all three approaches without having acquired the adequate visual reference points.

The report also found there was an unco-ordinated operation of the flight and engine controls by the two crew, and power was reduced below the normal levels, leading to a loss of control of the aircraft when the go-around was attempted on its third approach.

The investigation also found the flight was taken without adequate consideration of the weather conditions at Cork Airport.

It found air traffic control personnel at Cork Airport performed their duties in accordance with procedures and promptly sounded the alarm when they lost radio control with the aircraft.

According to the air accident unit, the purpose of the investigation was not to apportion blame or liability to anyone. It said the failings by the crew stemmed from poor training and operational control of the flight, which involved three different companies.

The report notes the flight involved three separate undertakings: the operator, Flightline SL of Barcelona, which had a Spanish air operator certificate;, which sold the tickets; and Air Lada of Seville which supplied the aircraft and the crew.