Recent Air Accidents
Below are a number of recent air accidents. If you were involved in any of these accidents, or any other air accident and would like to speak in confidence with an expert, please contact a member of the Aviation Team
Symbios Orthopédie SA - Portugal
17 April 2017
Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II
On 17 April 2017 a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II crashed next to a Lidl supermarket in Tires, shortly after takeoff from Cascais Airport in Portugal, killing the four persons on board, a lorry driver on the ground and injuring a number of persons on the ground. It is reported that the aircraft climbed to a height of around 300 feet, banked left despite being cleared for a right turn, the bank to the left increased along with a decrease in airspeed which resulted in the aircraft entering an aerodynamic stall, causing loss of lift and the steep descent to the impact point.
Irish Coastguard (CHC Helicopters) - Ireland
14 March 2017
On Tuesday 14 March 2017, a Sikorsky S-92 Irish Coastguard helicopter known as Rescue 116 (R116), crashed at sea while supporting another helicopter that was rescuing an injured man from a fishing vessel 150 miles off the coast of Co Mayo. The bodies of the two pilots have been recovered and the search continues for the other two rear crew members.
The Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) published a preliminary report on 13 April 2017. The report states that at just after 11pm, R116 departed from Dublin airport with a crew of four - two pilots and two rear crew (a winch operator and a winchman). The pilots decided to refuel at Blacksod Lighthouse, located at Blacksod Bay on the west coast of Ireland. On reaching a point off the west coast, the pilots commenced a descent to refuel at Blacksod. During the descent the helicopter tracked westerly over the sea and on reaching a height of 200 feet above the sea it turned left and the captain selected a heading to a waypoint on the helicopters flight management system. This waypoint is close to Black Rock Island, which is the largest of a group of rocks around 9 miles west of Blacksod Bay, has a 50 feet high lighthouse and a total height of 282 feet above sea level. The helicopter flew at 200 feet and at a speed of 75 knots on a collision course towards Black Rock. Around 13 seconds prior to impact with the island, one of the rear crew (possibly the winch operator using the aircraft high definition camera system), identified an island ahead and warned the pilots to turn right. A heading change was instigated and two seconds prior to impact the helicopter rapidly pitched nose up. The helicopter impacted with the island then lost control and crashed into the sea.
Jim Morris, former RAF pilot and Head of Aviation at Ashfords solicitors, analysed the preliminary report. The report provides a crucial insight into a shocking chain of events and the extensive work that still needs to be done to determine why this helicopter flew into a 282 feet rock during a routine approach to refuel. The Irish Coastguard helicopters are operated by the CHC helicopter services company and for the approach to Blacksod the crew were using the operators route guide for Blacksod. The geographic point on this route guide at which the arrival into Blacksod was to commence was a point close to Black Rock Island, yet it appears that the pilots were unaware of this significant obstacle for the approach and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) recording contains no reference by the crew to the presence of a lighthouse or terrain at Black Rock during their briefing for the approach. In addition, the CVR indicated that the captain and co-pilot had not flown to Blacksod recently. This raises serious concerns about the training currency of the flight crew and the information provided in the operators route guides. The decision of the air accident investigators to issue a safety recommendation that the operator reviews its route guides to enhance information, including obstacle heights, is an important start to improve the flight safety of these operations.
The preliminary report also focuses on the helicopter's Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS). The EGPWS is a system designed to warn the pilots if they are flying towards terrain to give them sufficient time to avoid collision. Astonishingly, the Irish investigators identified that the Black Rock lighthouse obstacle is not contained in the EGPWS obstacle and terrain database. Clearly a coastguard helicopter that operates at low level over the sea/ coast at night and in difficult weather conditions needs an EGPWS system that can warn of all islands and terrain in the area in which the helicopter is operated. The air accident investigators indicate that they continue to engage with Honeywell to fully understand why this crucial obstacle data was missing. In addition, they will need to determine whether the configuration of the helicopter and the EGPWS system during the approach to the island would have provided an adequate warning if the obstacle data had been present.
It is astonishing that the risk of collision with the lighthouse island was only identified by a crew member at the rear of the helicopter 13 second before impact. It is crucial that the full chain of events that contributed to this avoidable tragedy are promptly identified so that the aviation industry, operators and authorities can implement all necessary measures to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
Private Helicopter Flight - Wales
29 March 2017
Airbus Helicopters AS355
On Wednesday 29 March 2017, a privately owned Airbus Helicopters twin engine AS355 (Twin Squirrel) helicopter left Milton Keynes to fly to Dublin, via Caernarfon Bay, but was reported missing that afternoon after the helicopter failed to arrive at the destination. On Thursday 30 March, the helicopter wreckage was found in the Rhinog mountain range near Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia. It is reported that the area where the helicopter crashed is on a steep slope around 2,300 feet above sea level. All five persons on board were killed, including the owner of the helicopter, Kevin Burke and his wife, Ruth Burke.
The wreckage of the helicopter has been recovered and is being analysed by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).
Peruvian Airlines - Peru
28 March 2017
On 28 March 2017 a Peruvian Airlines Boeing 737-300, performing flight P9-112 from Lima to Jauja (Peru) with 141 people on board, landed on Jauja's runway 31 then veered off during the landing roll. Early reports indicate that the aircraft had a hard landing and that (at some point) during the landing roll and departure from the runway it suffered the collapse of its landing gear and burst into flames coming to a stop after skidding on fire for some distance. All passengers and crew were evacuated from the aircraft and there are media reports that around 29 people were taken to hospital with injuries. It is also reported that the fire has damaged the aircraft beyond repair.
Irish Coastguard (CHC Helicopters) - Ireland
14 March 2017
On Tuesday 14 March 2017, a Sikorsky S-92 Irish Coastguard helicopter known as Rescue 116 (R116), crashed at sea while supporting another helicopter that was rescuing an injured man from a fishing vessel 150 miles off the coast of Co Mayo. The bodies of two crew have been recovered and Garda and Navy divers continue to search for the other two crew members.
R116 accompanied the other helicopter to provide safety and communication support, known as top cover. At approximately 1am R116 turned back towards land to refuel, and around 13Km from the Mayo Coast the helicopter and crew lost contact with the coastguard. The wreckage of Rescue 116 was located in the water off Blackrock island, about 13km off the coast of Co Mayo. It is reported that the Irish air accident investigators believe that the tail of the helicopter hit rocks on the western end of Blackrock island.
The Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) have been recovered from the wreckage and were sent to Farnborough in England for analysis. This equipment should provide crucial real time data to assist the investigators determine the chain of events leading up to the accident.
Corporate and Leisure Aviation
21 February 2017
Beechcraft B200 King Air
The Beechcraft aircraft took off from Essendon Airport which is about 8 miles from central Melbourne. It is reported that it suffered a catastrophic engine failure shortly after takeoff then crashed into a shopping centre in Melbourne. All 5 on board lost their lives. There were no ground victims.
Turkish Airlines Flight 6491
16 January 2017
On 16 January 2017 the Boeing 747 cargo aircraft was on an international flight from Hong Kong, to Bishkek, Kyrgystan and crashed during landing. The aircraft struck a residential area about 500 meters from the far end of the runway. At the time, there was freezing fog and limited runway visibility reported at the airport. All four crew members and about 30 people on the ground were killed.
Russian Air Force
25 December 2016
This aircraft took-off from Adler/Sochi Airport, Russia (where it had landed to refuel) at 05:25 on 25 December 2016; it was headed for Latakia-Khmeimim Air Base, Syria. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft made a turn back towards the coastline before disappearing from radar screens and descending into the Black Sea approximately 1.5 kilometres from the coast, killing all 92 occupants, including 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble choir of the Russian Armed Forces.
Pakistan International Airlines
7 December 2016
This aircraft took off from Chitral Airport, Pakistan at around 15:30 on 7 December 2016. At 16:14 the flight radioed that they had an engine problem and that they were descending. At 16:15 a Mayday call was issued and this was the last contact with the aircraft before it impacted a hillside in Pakistan. Sadly, all 47 people, including five crew, were killed. Investigators retrieved the flight recorder soon after the crash and an initial report by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority determined that the aircraft’s left engine malfunctioned and exploded, which damaged the left wing and the aerodynamics. This damage was thought to have rendered the aircraft uncontrollable and in turn, prevented the pilot from making a gradual descent.
4 December 2016
Cessna 150L/ SZD-51-1 Glider
On 4 December 2016 a glider pilot was killed following a mid-air collision in Leicestershire between the glider and a Cessna 150L aircraft. The Cessna landed safely.
28 November 2016
LaMia flight LMI2933 was carrying the Brazilian Chapecoense football team from Santa Cruz - Viru Viru International Airport, Bolivia, to Rionegro/Medellin-Jose Maria Cordova Airport, Columbia, on 28 November 2016. The team was en route to a football match in the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Finals.
LaMia requested a permit for the original journey from ANAC (the Brazilian aviation authorities) but this was denied. As such, the football team had to fly to Santa Cruz on an ordinary commercial flight which caused delays to the subsequent flight schedule.
The initial plan for the second leg of this journey was for the flight operator, LaMia, to fly the football team to Medellin with a compulsory intermediate refuelling stop planned in Cobija, Northern Bolivia. However, due to the delays coming in to and leaving Santa Cruz, the scheduled refuelling stop could no longer take place at Cobija due to night time closures of that airport.
The distance of the flight planned from Santa Cruz to Medellin was 2983 km with an estimated flight time of 4 hours and 22 minutes, and the flight plan for this aircraft showed a fuel endurance of the same time.
Before takeoff, the flight crew calculated the weight of the aircraft to be 41,610 kgs, which was just below the maximum takeoff weight. Investigators believe that this weight was underestimated and that in fact, the actual weight at takeoff was 42,148kgs.
During the flight, the crew discussed the fuel calculations and the possibility of making a landing elsewhere in order to refuel, but a decision was made to continue to Medellin.
The aircraft began its descent whilst the Master Caution sounded in the flight deck, notifying the crew that they only had 20 minutes’ worth of fuel left. The aircraft was cleared to continue its descent whilst three other aircraft were in a holding pattern and another was diverting to Medellin due to indications of a fuel leak. Whilst waiting for other aircraft to land before it, flight LMI2933 reportedly completed two laps of the holding pattern, adding about 54 nautical miles to its flight length.
At 02:52, the air traffic controller reported to the aircraft that there was another aircraft holding below them and asked if they could hold for longer. Flight LMI2933 responded that they had a fuel emergency and requested immediate descent clearance. The controller subsequently cleared the flight to turn right before it could initiate descent.
At 02:53, engine no.3 (right wing) automatically shut down due to fuel exhaustion, followed closely by engine no.4 (right wing). The air traffic controller was not notified of this.
At 02:55, engines no.2 and no.1 also shut down, and the flight data recorder stopped operating.
At 02:57, the crew radioed that they had suffered a total electric fault with no fuel, and an air traffic controller advised the crew that the aircraft was 0.1 nautical miles away but that the altitude data was no longer being received. The crew advised the controller that the aircraft was at 9,000 feet, which was 1,000 feet below the minimum altitude required when passing over the Rionegro VOR. Air traffic control radar stopped detecting the aircraft as it descended into the crest of a mountain ridge. 71 of the 77 occupants on board were killed.
Malta-Luqa Airport, Malta
24 October 2016
Swearingen SA227-AT Expediter
On 24 October 2016, this Fairchild SA227-AT Merlin, operated by CAE Aviation, took off from Malta International Airport on a surveillance mission for the French Ministry of Defence. The aircraft was due to return to the same airport without landing anywhere but tragically, soon after takeoff, the aircraft crashed into the terrain just beyond the airport perimeter fence before bursting into flames. All five occupants were killed.
17 October 2016
On 17 October 2016 the Cessna aircraft crashed in a field near Bourne Aerodrome, resulting in one death and one serious injury.
13 October 2016
Cessna 500 Citation I
This Cessna 500 Citation I jet took off from Kelowna Airport, Canada at about 21:32 on 13 October 2016. The destination was Springbank Airport, Canada.
Radar contact was lost whilst the aircraft was climbing and it is reported that the aircraft entered a high rate of descent and crashed.
2 October 2016
On 2 October 2016 the Mustang aircraft crashed and caught fire in a field on the approach to land at its Hardwick base in Norfolk. The passenger died as a result of his injuries and the pilot was seriously injured.
18 September 2016
EV-97 Team Eurostar
On 18 September 2016 the Eurostar aircraft crashed into a field in mid-Wales. Both the passenger and pilot were tragically killed.
6 August 2016
Piper PA28-161 Cherokee Warrior
On 6 August 2016 the piper aircraft was off the East Sussex coast when the pilot declared that he had a problem with a rough running engine and that he was unable to maintain altitude. The aircraft ditched into the sea and the pilot was killed. No mechanical defect was identified within the engine, but the aircraft was operating in the flight regime where severe carburettor icing could occur at any power setting. The investigation did identify a chafed wire in the engine oil temperature indication system which could explain the pilot reports of high oil temperature.
17 July 2016
SUD SA-313B Alouette II
On 17 July 2016 the Alouette helicopter crashed during landing at Breighton Airfield in North Yorkshire. The pilot died and the 4 passengers were injured.
Empire Test Pilots School
8 July 2016
On 8 July 2016 the YAK aircraft crashed into a field near MoD Boscombe Down. One of the occupants, a Royal Air Force Test pilot, was killed and the other was seriously injured.
30 May 2016
Rans S-6-ESD Coyote II
On 30 May 2016 the Rans aircraft crashed into a field south of Shifnal Airfield Shropshire, killing both occupants.
19 May 2016
This Airbus A320 departed for Cairo International Airport, Egypt, from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France, at 23:21 hours on 18 May 2016.
Last contact with the flight was at around 02:29 hours before contact was lost once the aircraft was about 10 miles inside Egyptian airspace.
No Mayday call was received by air traffic control before the aircraft crashed into the Mediterranean Sea at around 02:33 hours on 19 May 2016 (Egypt Standard Time). All 66 on board, including 10 crew, were killed.
On 15 December 2016, investigators reported that traces of explosives were found on a number of the victims.
30 April 2016
Slingsby T67MK II Firefly
On 30 April 2016 the Firefly aircraft crashed into a field in North Yorkshire killing both occupants.
Rostov Airport, Russia
19 March 2016
Boeing 737-8KN (WL)
Flight FZ981 was a scheduled passenger flight from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don Airport, Russia, which took off from Dubai International Airport shortly after 18:00 hours on 18 March 2016.
During the initial approach to runway, weather conditions were adverse and the flight received a windshear alert which caused the crew to abort the first landing attempt. Instead, the crew decided to go around and went into a holding pattern in order to wait for improved weather conditions.
After circling the southern Russian airport for over two hours, the flight left the holding pattern and descended towards Rostov airport to make a second attempt at landing.
After aborting the second landing attempt, the aircraft climbed but subsequently turned into a rapid descent and hit the runway at over 600 km/h. All 55 passengers and seven crew on board were killed.
On 20 April a first interim report was published by the Russian Air Accident investigators ("IAC"). The findings included:
- During the second approach, the crew again aborted and initiated another go around at a height of 220 meters and a distance of 4.5 km from the runway threshold. The vertical speed during that second go-around went as high as 20 mps, while engine thrust was set at the maximum TOGA limit of 101 – 102% (N1).
- The second go-around decision was probably provoked by a sudden 20-knot increase of indicated speed to as much as 176 knots within 3 seconds, which could have been an indication of a windshear.
- During the second go-around, flaps were set at 15° and the landing gear was retracted. At 1900 ft (approx. 600m) the nose up pitch angle reached 18°. The pilot flying pushed the control column forward, causing the vertical acceleration to decrease, while the forward speed increased to over 200 knots, which caused an automatic retraction of flaps from 15° to 10°.
- A short-term reduction of engine thrust followed within 3 seconds, resulting in decreasing speed which triggered an automatic extension of the flaps back to 15°. The crew then intervened, again setting maximum TOGA thrust, which caused another automatic flaps retraction, back to 10°, where they remained until the impact.
- The pilot flying then pulled back on the control column, which increased the vertical speed to as much as 16 mps.
- At a height of 900m, there was a simultaneous control column nose down input and a trimming of the horizontal stabilizer to a nose down position, from -2,5 deg (6,5 units) to +2,5 deg (1,5 units). The FDR recorded that nose down stabilizer trimming, from the stabilizer trim switches on the control wheel, lasting 12 seconds. The CVR also recorded the specific noise of rotation of the trim wheels, located on both sides of the central pedestal.
- The result was that after the aircraft climbed to about 1000m, it then began a rapid descent with negative vertical acceleration of -1g. The subsequent crew attempts to recover were not sufficient to avoid an impact with the ground.
- At 00:41:49, the aircraft hit the runway approximately 120m from the threshold with a speed of over 600 kmph and a nose down pitch exceeding 50 degrees. The impact totally destroyed the aircraft, instantly killing all on board.