Plane crash survivor calls on agencies to implement report’s recommendations

A survivor of one of Ireland’s worst plane crashes in 50 years wants European aviation regulators to implement a raft of safety recommendations contained in the final crash report, published yesterday.

Donal Walsh, originally from Co Waterford, walked from the mangled wreckage of the Manx2 aircraft which crashed after its third attempt to land in dense fog at Cork Airport on Feb 10, 2011.

“It has been a defining event in my life,” he said last night. “I am delighted at the thorough work put into making this report.

“At this time, I give thanks again for how God has preserved me from death but also continue to remember in prayer those families who suffer terrible loss on that fateful day.”

He hopes the various aviation safety and regulatory bodies will act quickly to implement the 11 safety recommendations issued by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) to ensure no other families suffer similar tragedy.

The AAIU’s final report 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.

The 240-page document identified a series of poor operational decisions by the pilots in the moments before the crash, and said the probable cause was “loss of control during an attempted go-around initiated below decision height [200 feet] in Instrument Meteorological Conditions”.

But AAIU chief inspector Jurgen Whyte said it was important to establish why this happened.

“They [the flight crew] were not given the tools to perform on the day and make the right decisions. The protections for the flight crew were just not there,” he said.

The probe examined the relationship between three agencies involved in the flight — the operator, 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 flight crew under an agreement with Manx2.

The Irish Airlines Pilots’ Association said the report should act as a wake-up call for the aviation industry.

Survivors and families of the victims, who have already settled with the ticket seller, are now preparing for hearings linked to several multi-million euro lawsuits against the aircraft makers.

Beth Webster, partner of dead co-pilot, Andrew Cantle, and his parents, John and Ann, have lodged papers in the High Court here, suing Flightline and AirLada.

The European Commission has 90 days to respond to the recommendations.

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