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Inquest into death of Sunderland pilot

John Cantle with a photograph of his son Andrew.
Andrew Cantle, 27, from Moorside, Sunderland, was among the six who died when the Manx2.com flight they were on from Belfast to Cork crashed on its third attempt to land in dense fog at the airport on February 10, 2011.

John Cantle with a photograph of his son Andrew. Andrew Cantle, 27, from Moorside, Sunderland, was among the six who died when the Manx2.com flight they were on from Belfast to Cork crashed on its third attempt to land in dense fog at the airport on February 10, 2011.

A PILOT’S family will now try to live their lives “day to day” after an inquest ruled the plane crash that killed their son was an accident.

John Cantle and wife Ann spent two agonising days at an inquest into the death of son Andrew, 27, and five others in the crash at Cork Airport in February 2011.

Mr Cantle was the co-pilot when the Fairchild SA227-BC Metro crashed in thick fog as it was preparing to land.

He died on board the early morning flight from George Best Airport in Belfast to Cork, alongside Spanish pilot, 31-year-old Jordi Sola Lopez, and four of the 10 passengers.

An inquest into the deaths, held at Washington Street Courthouse in Cork, saw a jury return a verdict of accidental death.

Speaking from the family’s Moorside home, Mr Cantle snr, 62, said: “It was the right verdict which they came to after about 15 minutes.

“Though we will never have closure or be able to just ‘get on with things’, we will now be trying to live our lives day to day.”

The jury said the six victims died as a result of multiple injuries sustained when the plane was attempting to land in heavy fog.

About 15 witnesses gave evidence in the two-day hearing, including a representative of the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU).

The hearing was told the accident was the result of a catastrophic loss of control of the aircraft at a low height, leaving the pilots unable to recover.

The plane rolled violently to the left and right before its wing tip hit the ground, the hearing was told.

The court heard Mr Cantle had been manually flying the airplane to Cork where he made two approaches to land but had to abort on each occasion at heights of 101 feet and 91 feet due to thick fog.

Mr Cantle was still at the flying controls on the third approach but it appeared from cockpit recordings that Capt Lopez took over the engine controls on this approach, the hearing heard.

Mr Cantle snr said: “It has been a very intense two days but I’m glad we went over for it, if I hadn’t I would have regretted it.”

The others who lost their lives were businessman Richard Noble, 48, accountant Patrick Cullinan, 45, and harbour master Michael Evans, 51, all from Belfast, and businessman Brendan McAleese, 39, from Antrim.

In an AAIU report published earlier this year, air accident inspectors identified nine significant issues which contributed to the Manx2.com service crashing.

The AAIU said there were systemic deficiencies at the operational, organisational and regulatory levels including pilot training, scheduling of crews, maintenance and inadequate oversight.

A series of safety recommendations were made to the European Commission, European Aviation Safety Agency, and Spanish aviation authorities.

 
 
 

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