New lead in crash inquiry

Manx2 CoPilot Andrew Cantle
Manx2 CoPilot Andrew Cantle
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ENGINE failure could have caused a plane crash which killed a Wearside pilot, according to air investigators.

Andrew Cantle, from Moorside, Sunderland, died along with five other people in the horrific accident in the Republic of Ireland a year ago on Friday.

The 27-year-old co-pilot and Spanish pilot Jordi Lopez, 31, were making a third attempt to bring down the turboprop aircraft in thick fog when it crashed and overturned at Cork International Airport.

Both Mr Cantle and Mr Lopez were killed, along with four passengers on board the flight from Belfast. Six others on board survived.

Now, ahead of the first anniversary of the tragedy, an interim statement from the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) has revealed that a possible engine fault on the 19-year-old Fairchild Metro III could have caused temperature and fuel supply problems.

Experts are carrying out a painstaking investigation into whether the potential defect could have resulted in “slower engine speed” and “faster torque”, leading to the plane stalling.

Today, Andrew’s parents John and Ann said they hoped a final report, expected to be released in the coming months, would put an end to their agonising wait for answers.

John said: “There has been two or three things that have come out of this report that we did not know from the first one.

“At first, we thought that Andrew had full control of the aircraft but it turns out that the captain actually had control of the power.

“That would be like driving down the motorway with someone in control of the accelerator and someone controlling the steering.

“So we want to know why the captain did not take full control of the aircraft, especially as they were flying at such a low altitude of 50 feet.

“It has also confirmed that there were problems with one of the sensors on the engines as it was giving a false reading.

“Normally, it would not have made a difference but because they were so low, it needed to be in perfect working order.

“It was also Andrew’s birthday this month and that has made it very difficult.

“After he died, we finally got ourselves together but now it is coming all back up again.

“If anything is to come of this I would really want something to be done for future flights so it can’t happen again.”

Last year, hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Mr Cantle – who lived in York with air stewardess girlfriend Beth Webster – at Sunderland Minster.

He was also a lifeboat volunteer and was thought to be the youngest in the region when he joined at 16.

Previously, the AAIU revealed the pilots had tried to abort their third and fatal landing attempt.

A warning had sounded during the last seconds of the cockpit voice recorder, which is believed to be the stall horn.

The aircraft hit the runway, flipped over and landed on grass where it caught fire.

A spokeswoman for said: “Our thoughts this week are with the families of those who lost their lives, those injured and everyone affected by the tragic crash at Cork Airport almost one year ago on February 10, 2011.

“We welcome the Interim Statement published by the AAIU of the Irish Department of Transport which is continuing to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the crash of flight NM 7100 from Belfast to Cork, which was operated by Flightline BCN.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho