Report: Aircraft in fatal crash had no technical defects

The aircraft flown in a fatal crash last month did not have any technical defects that contributed to the accident, investigators have found.

The crash on Nov 11, near Birr airfield in Co Offaly, resulted in the deaths of Niall Doherty, 31, from Ballinakill, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and Damien Deegan, 31, from Crinkle, Co Offaly, both experienced pilots.

Air accident investigators from the Department of Transport yesterday published a preliminary report.

At the time, the small Cessna aircraft was engaged in flight training. Witnesses reported seeing it perform a “touch and go” where the aircraft touches the runway before climbing again immediately. During the climb out, witnesses heard the engine stop and saw it make a steep descending turn to the left before disappearing from view.

The small plane, a Cessna 150 training aircraft known by members of the Birr Ormand Flying Club as ‘The Crow’ due to its distinctive black paint work, was later found upside down in an overgrown field in Clonkelly Upper, Birr.

The emergency services were contacted but the dark colour of the aircraft and the late hour made the accident site difficult to find. A Garda helicopter subsequently located it.

Both occupants had been fatally injured. Examination of the accident site showed the Cessna hit the ground hard, nose down. The nose landing gear detached and the aircraft came to rest upside down, a short distance from the point of initial impact.

The cabin had been crushed and the fuselage was fractured. The engine was also damaged and one blade of the propeller was bent backwards.

There was no evidence of any substantial fuel spill.

The report’s author, Paddy Judge, said the continuing investigation would “include further examination of the aircraft and engine as well as operational aspects and conduct of the flight”.

“However, at this time, no technical defect that might have contributed to the accident has been found,” said Mr Judge.

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