‘They didn’t even know my son was flying’ – dad’s anger over damning report into plane crash which killed Sunderland pilot

John Cantle with a photograph of his son Andrew.
John Cantle with a photograph of his son Andrew.
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A GRIEVING father has hit out after a damning report into an Irish plane crash which killed Sunderland co-pilot Andrew Cantle and five other people.

In a report published yesterday, air accident investigators concluded that there were “systemic deficiencies” at operational, organisational and regulatory levels.

Andrew Cantle, from Moorside, was one of six people who died when Manx2.com flight, from Belfast to Cork, which crashed during its third attempt to land in dense fog on February 10, 2011.

Father John Cantle slammed the findings of the report by Ireland’s Air Accident Investigation Unit, which made 11 safety recommendations.

The investigation’s results were “warts and all”, the 61-year-old retired salesman said, and had not made easy reading.

It revealed the flight crew were fatigued, the approach to Cork continued in poor visibility below required limits and engine power-levers were under the normal in-flight operational range, an action banned in-flight.

He added: “In the old cliché, it dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s.

“But I don’t think we have got closure. No matter what happens, you can never put the lid on the tin and the tin under the bed.

“I think the closure is knowing what happened.”

He added: “One of the most difficult things was trying to explain how that company worked, as no-one can explain how they did what they did.

“They were a company that were flying people at 30,000 feet and they were not obeying rules.

“They did not even know Andrew was on the flight. There were no pieces of paper saying he was on the route.

“If it was a taxi rank, you would say, fair enough, you don’t know who is down there.”

Mr Cantle, who was a member of Sunderland’s RNLI volunteer team, was a newly-qualified pilot.

The family, from Moorside, are still battling for justice for their son, by taking legal action against FlightlineBCN, based out of Barcelona, which was granted the Air Operator Certificate to run the service, and Airlada, which leased the plane and crew.

Mr Cantle added: “It has been a long wait, but I would rather it was a long time and get it right.”

The service was operated by Flightline, the tickets for the flight sold by an Isle of Man-based company Manx2 and the aircraft and flight crew supplied by a Spanish company.

In its final report, concluded were at the including pilot training, scheduling of crews, maintenance and inadequate oversight.