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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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Manx2 pilot 'put himself under pressure' to land in thick fog - rather than unfamiliar airport

The coroner’s court also heard today that responses to safety recommendations made as a consequence of the crash were not adequate.

Image: Niall Carson

Updated 10.42pm

THE TWO PILOTS who were killed in an air crash at Cork Airport three years ago along with four passengers, were “inappropriately paired” and likely fatigued by the time they reached Cork, an inquest has heard.

A jury of six man and one woman in the inquest into the tragedy today returned verdicts of accidental deaths in relation to the six people who lost their lives.

Speaking this morning, Sean Patrick, air traffic control tower supervisor at Cork Airport on the day of the tragedy, said control staff heard a “dull thud” as the plane crashed but that the fog was so thick no one could see the wreckage.

He said that the crew were advised that visibility was 500m at best at Cork Airport and that ACT relayed the conditions from other airports at the time, including Kerry airport which had a visibility greater than 10km on the morning.

Leo Murray of the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), told Cork Coroner’s Court that commander of the flight, 31-year-old Jordi Sola Lopez, may have ‘put himself under pressure’ to land in Cork given that he had never flown to Kerry airport before. He suggested that, despite the more favourable conditions at Kerry at the time, the extra considerations that arise when diverting may have dissuaded him from re-routing.

“Lots of problems could occur to him if he diverts but if he just lands in Cork these problems don’t occur,” Murray told Coroner Frank O’Connell.

Recommendations

The Fairchild Metro EC-ITP aircraft crashed, overturned and caught fire on its third attempt to land at Cork Airport on February 10, 2011. Flightline was the flight’s operator and the ‘virtual airline’ ticketseller was Manx2.com. A subsequent investigation report found that poor decisions by the air crew combined with lack of oversight of the airline operators were contributing factors in the disaster.

Murray also told the coroner that he believed some of the responses to safety recommendations the AAIU forwarded to relevant parties were “not adequate”.

Four of these eleven recommendations, first made public in the AAIU report on the crash published last January, have been made to the European Directorate responsible for Commercial Air Transport regarding the role of the flight ticket sellers, limitation on flight times, improvements on safety oversights and the oversight of operating licences.

Two of the recommendations have been made to flight operator Flightline regarding its training and operational policy, and one to the Spanish Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority regarding the oversight of air carriers.

The AAIU report examined the complex relationship between Air Lada, the Spanish owner of the plane, Flightline and Manx2.com,. It found that the Spanish aviation regulator AESA had no oversight of the Flightline’s service in Ireland and that some of Flightline’s operational responsibilities were being exercised by Manx2 and Air Lada.

Fear of being burned alive

Survivors of the crash and families of the victims have attended the two day inquest, with a number of them making statements about their memories of the incident. One woman said she feared she would be burned alive in the wreckage while another survivor said he felt suffocated as mud and water poured into the cabin after impact.

The coroner’s court also heard statements from the assistant State pathologist and the first gardai on the scene, who erected a tent to house a makeshift morgue on the runway as bodies were removed from the wreckage.

First published 6pm

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Joe Leogue

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