Emergency landing blamed on bird


An aerobatic pilot was forced to make an emergency landing during an airshow in Co Limerick following a likely collision with a small bird.

An Air Accident Investigation Union Ireland (AAIU) report into the incident on June 5th 2011 at Foynes found the left-upper wing rib of the Steen Skybolt bi-plane was “completely destroyed” in the incident, “indicating that it may have been struck by an object in flight, probably a small bird”.

The pilot experienced severe control difficulties approximately four minutes into the display routine after sections of fabric tore loose from the top surface of the upper left wing and across its centre section.

According to the report, he managed to carry out a successful forced landing in the best available field, with no additional damage to the aircraft.

Emergency services were quickly on the scene but the pilot did not require medical assistance.

The investigation team interviewed the pilot, understood to be David Bruton, who said he considered using his parachute but low altitude and spectator safety ruled out that option.

The damage to the aircraft also made a landing at nearby Shannon Airport impossible.

According to the report, subsequent inspection by ultra violet (UV) light “revealed some biomass residue on the wing leading edge, evidence of a possible bird strike at some time.”

An inspector’s report concluded “I do not think that there was any failure of the wood and plywood components or glue of this wing. This aircraft appears to have been well maintained.”

The AAIU noted the pilot’s “considerable aerobatic flight experience, a factor which no doubt led to a successful outcome of this event.”

The report made no safety recommendations.