Inexperienced pilots were rostered on same flight

Co-pilot Andrew Cantle.

The night before the accident, the aircraft operated a night cargo charter, from Belfast Aldergrove to Edinburgh, to Inverness and back to Aldergrove.

The sectors were operated by a different flight crew to the crew involved in the accident. The cargo operation required the removal of passenger seats prior to flight.

The aircraft arrived back at Aldergrove at 5.10am where passenger seats were re-installed by the flight crew who had operated the cargo flight.

The accident flight crew then took over — Andrew Cantle, 27, who was on his first job as a co-pilot, and pilot Jordi Lopez, 31, — and flew the aircraft the short flight to Belfast City Airport where they took on 800 litres of fuel — enough for the planned round trip to Cork and back.

The flight plan specified Waterford Airport as the alternate airport. No second alternate was nominated. Ten passengers boarded the aircraft and took their seats at random as seating was not assigned.

Due to the limited number of passenger seats installed in the aircraft, no cabin crew were carried on the flight, nor were they required by regulation.

The required safety briefing was given to the passengers prior to the flight by the co-pilot.

The AAIU report shows that two inexperienced pilots were rostered together on the same flight.

It was Mr Cantle’s first job as a co-pilot. It was one of Mr Lopez’s first as captain of a Metroliner.

Mr Cantle piloted the flight as it left Belfast City Airport for Cork at 8.10am on Feb 10.

At 8.48am, the crew contacted Cork Approach Control which advised them low visibility, or CAT II landing conditions.

Aviation sources say that a flight’s commander, in this case Mr Lopez, would normally take over for such landings. But Mr Cantle remained at the controls and aborted two landings — at 9.03am at 101ft, and at 9.14am at just 91ft.

The aircraft entered a holding pattern for 15 to 20 minutes. The crew checked the weather at Waterford, which was poor, and Shannon, which was also poor.

They then checked the weather at Dublin, which was marginal, before Cork Approach told them that the weather at Kerry Airport was excellent.

However, weather conditions at Cork improved and the crew decided to attempt a third landing.

Mr Cantle set the flaps to half, even though most pilots would set them to full, to ensure a lower stall speed. Data from the aircraft’s approach shows it deviated to the right of the runway’s centreline when it was about 400ft above the ground.

The data shows a reduction in engine power, followed two seconds later by an increase in power, while at the same time an alarm sounds, either a terrain warning or stall alarm. It was seven seconds to impact. Three seconds later, and at just 100ft above the ground, Mr Lopez called for a go-around — an aborted landing — which was acknowledged by Mr Cantle.

But the plane rolled significantly to left, followed by a rapid roll to the right before the right wing tip struck the runway. The aircraft was at a 97 degree angle when the wing tip struck. The aircraft landed on its roof, slid some 200m, departed the runway and came to rest in a grass verge.

Fire broke out in its engines but Cork Airport fire brigade personnel, who were on the scene within minutes, extinguished the flames before they spread to the fuselage.


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