Inquest hears death of Sunderland co-pilot Andrew Cantle was an accident

An inquest into the death of Sunderland pilot Andrew Cantle in an Irish plane crash in 2011 has been ruled accidental

Andrew Cantle, the co-pilot killed in an Irish plane crash in 2011
Andrew Cantle, the co-pilot killed in an Irish plane crash in 2011

The death of a North East pilot in an Irish plane crash three years ago was an accident, a jury has ruled.

Andrew Cantle, 27, was the co-pilot when the Fairchild SA227-BC Metro crashed in thick fog as it was preparing to land at Cork Airport in February 2011.

He died on board the early-morning Manx2 flight from George Best Airport in Belfast to Cork, alongside the Spanish pilot, 31-year-old Jordi Sola Lopez, and four of the 10 passengers.

Now an inquest into the deaths of the six at the Washington Street Courthouse in Cork has seen a jury return the verdict of accidental death.

The jury said the six victims died as result of multiple injuries sustained in an airplane crash while the plane was attempting to land at Cork Airport in heavy fog.

Some 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 court was told.

It was said that Mr Cantle had been manually flying the airplane from Belfast 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.

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 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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