Poor crew decisions among factors in Cork air crash

Air Accident Investigation Unit makes eleven safety recommendations following fatal crash

Wreckage is removed from the scene of the Manx2 air crash at Cork Airport in 2011. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Wreckage is removed from the scene of the Manx2 air crash at Cork Airport in 2011. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Tue, Jan 28, 2014, 11:41

A report into an airplane crash which 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 the crash.

The report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit into the Manx2. com flight which crashed at Cork Airport on February 10th 2011, found the landing approach was continued in conditions of poor visibility below those required for a safe landing.

The report also found the crew continued with the descent below the Decision Height - the height at which the pilots must have a certain visibility of the landing area - without having acquired the adequate visual reference points.

AAIU Formal Report

The report also found there was an uncoordinated operation of the flight and engine controls resulting in loss of control of the aircraft when the go-around was attempted after it became apparent that the plane would not be able to land safely on that approach.

Crew members, 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 ten passengers when the plane crashed while attempting to land on the main runway at Cork, R17.

Among 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.

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

“We have established what exactly happened but we were also interested in why it happened so that we can work to try and ensure it doesn’t happen again - there were failings by individuals but these were part of the overall operating culture in which he flight operated of the venture,” said a source.

The AAIU reports notes the flight involved three separate undertakings, the operator, Flightline BCN of Barcelona which had a Spanish Air Operator Certificate, Manx2.com which sold the tickets and Air Lada of Seville who supplied the aircraft and the crew.

The report also says tiredness and fatigue on the part of the crew was a factor while there was also a systems failure in that there was inadequate command training and checking and inadequate oversight of the operation by both Flightline BCN and the Spanish aviation authorities.

“Systemic deficiencies at the operational, organisation and regulatory levels were also identified by the investigation.

Such deficiencies included pilot training, scheduling of flight crews, maintenance and inadequate oversight of the operation by the Operator and the State of Registration.”

The AAIU has made a total of eleven safety recommendations with four of these being made to the European Commission Directorate responsible for Commercial Air Transport regarding flight time limitations, the role of the ticket seller and the improvement of safety oversight and the oversight of operating licences.

Three of the recommendations have been made to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and include a recommendation regarding the number of successive instrument approaches that can be made in certain weather conditions.

Two of the recommendations have been made to the operator Flightline regarding its operational policy and training, another to the Spanish Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority regarding oversight of air carriers and one to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.