Cork airport crash team did not assist documentary

The team which investigated the Cork Airport plane crash has declined to co-operate with the makers of a major documentary on the disaster, due to air tonight, out of respect for the survivors and victims’ families.

The Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) said it felt it was “not appropriate” for its inspectors to feature in, or to assist in the making of National Geographic’s Air Crash Investigation programme focusing on the 2011 crash so soon after the tragedy.

“It is too soon and too sensitive. And our report speaks for itself,” said an AAIU spokesman.

It is understood the documentary makers approached the unit up to two years ago before the coroner’s court process and the various court cases linked to the crash had concluded.

Six people — four passengers and the two pilots — died on February 10, 2011, when a Fairchild SA227-BC Metro III aircraft en route from Belfast to Cork crashed on its third landing attempt in heavy fog at Cork Airport.

The doomed flight was operated under the terms of an arrangement involving Spanish company Flightline BCN, which held a Spanish air operator certificate; ticket seller Manx2, based in the Isle of Man; and another Spanish firm, AirLada, which supplied the aircraft and crew under an agreement with Manx2.

Following the most complex and comprehensive investigation in its 20-year history, the AAIU published a 240-page report last year which found that poor regulatory oversight by Spanish authorities contributed to two tired, inexperienced pilots running the aviation equivalent of three red lights in bad weather.

Their report identified a series of poor operational decisions by the pilots in the moments before the crash, and said the probable cause of the crash was “loss of control during an attempted go-around initiated below decision height [200ft] in instrument meteorological conditions”.

It said a catalogue of systemic deficiencies at operational, organisational, and regulatory levels which oversaw the operation of the flight, including pilot training, the scheduling of flight crews, and maintenance, led to tiredness and fatigue on the part of the crew, inadequate command training and checking, inappropriate pairing of flight crew members, and inadequate oversight.

The AAIU issued 11 safety recommendations which have had a far-reaching impact on aviation regulation around the world.

Its report is regarded in aviation circles as one of the most important air crash reports in recent decades.

National Geographic’s hit TV series, Air Crash Investigation explores some of the world’s worst air crashes.

Tonight’s hour-long episode will focus on the Manx2 aircraft’s crash on its third attempt to land at a fog-bound Cork Airport.

Drawing on the air accident report, flight data, and cockpit voice recordings, the programme makers have used actors and computer graphics to recreate the final moments of the fatal flight.

Air Crash Investigation: Third Time Unlucky, is due for broadcast on the National Geographic Channel at 9pm tonight.


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