Rocky landing for Aslan

THE owners of a commuter aircraft, which overshot the runway with 40 passengers on board, including rock group Aslan, and ended up with its nose in the sea, have blamed the accident on bad weather.

The EuroCeltic Fokker F27 jet prop plane was lifted out of the water yesterday afternoon and was being examined by air accident investigators.

It crashed shortly after 5pm last Saturday as it was landing on the runway at Strandhill Airport, Co Sligo. EuroCeltic spokesman Noel Hanley said he had spoken to the pilot and had been told that the aircraft aquaplaned along the runway before part of it tipped over into the sea. “There was a lot of water on the runway at the time. The pilot applied the brakes and the plane just kept on going,” Mr Hanley said. “She just dipped her nose into the sea.”

The man at the Fokker’s controls was the airline’s most senior pilot. “He has huge experience and has flown with the RAF,” Mr Hanley said. He said EuroCeltic was co-operating fully with investigators and it was the first time any of its fleet of planes had been involved in an accident since the company began operating over two and a half years ago.

None of the more than 40 passengers were hurt on the flight which had come in from Dublin.

Helen Devaney, who lives close to the airport, witnessed the accident.

“It just overshot the runway into the sea. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was very stormy and wet at the time. Conditions were particularly bad,” Ms Devaney said.

She said it was the first time she had ever witnessed an accident at Strandhill Airport since it opened in 1988. “The plane was pulled back out of the water yesterday afternoon by a lot of heavy machinery,” Ms Devaney said.

EuroCeltic said it was happy none of the passengers were injured and thanked the crew for acting in an “exemplary fashion.”

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