‘Poor visibility’ may have contributed to fatal plane crash

Bryan Keane and Paul Smith died when their aircraft hit Blackstairs Mountain

Bryan Keane (69) and Paul Smith (58) died when their Cessna 172 crashed on the Carlow-Wexford border in May. Photograph: Karl Dickman/Wikimedia Commons

Bryan Keane (69) and Paul Smith (58) died when their Cessna 172 crashed on the Carlow-Wexford border in May. Photograph: Karl Dickman/Wikimedia Commons

 

A preliminary report into a fatal plane crash in the Blackstairs Mountains in May has said weather conditions in the area may have led to “poor visibility”.

Bryan Keane (69) and Paul Smith (58), from Co Meath, died when their Cessna 172 crashed into Blackstairs Mountain on the Carlow-Wexford border on May 24th.

The two friends, accompanied by two dogs, were on their way to attend a “fly-in” event at a private airfield near Taghmon, Co Wexford.

A preliminary report from the Air Accident Investigation Unit said Met Éireann found there were no general problems with cloud, visibility or weather on the morning of the crash. But the atmosphere was unstable and there was a risk of poor visibility and cloud conditions above 1,000ft, due to condensation.

Weather conditions

The report said other pilots attending the fly-in described the weather conditions in the vicinity of Blackstairs Mountain about the time of the accident, as “mist” and “drizzle”. And locals reported the upper portion of the mountain was obscured by “drizzle”, “rain” or “low cloud”.

Final radar contact with the plane, around 9.30am, showed it at an altitude of 2,300ft, at an air speed of 120 knots, the report said.

It said the crash site was on a steep, rocky slope on the western side of a ridge near the mountain’s summit.

The aircraft crashed into the mountain at 2,150ft.

“Ground scars at the initial impact point indicate that the aircraft attitude was approximately wings level and slightly nose up,” the report said.

It said the aircraft’s engine was found about 130 metres downhill from the main wreckage site.

“Initial indications are that the engine was providing power at the time of impact,” it said.

Following an examination at the accident site, the aircraft wreckage was taken to the unit’s wreckage facility at Gormanston, Co Meath, where further examination is ongoing, the report said.

Investigators are also seeking technical assistance from the French safety investigation authority, to attempt to recover data from an on-board navigation system.

No conclusions have been reached in the investigation and a final report will be published “in due course”.