Fatal plane crash report finds aircraft lost control and speed before nosedive
A plane that crashed in Co Antrim killing two people suffered a critical reduction in airspeed and a loss of control, a report has concluded.
Bob Farmbrough was at the controls of the two-seat light aircraft that came down and caught fire in a wooded area near Ballyhill Lane outside Crumlin last April.
The father-of-four (77) from Carrickfergus was a retired commercial pilot with more than 40 years' experience.
His passenger Bryan Greenwood from Larne, a father-of-two and grandfather, who ran his own aerial photography business, also died.
The Cessna 152, rented from the Ulster Flying Club in Newtownards, came down between Nutts Corner and Loanends on April 19.
A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that during a manoeuvre at low level the aircraft stalled and descended rapidly, passing through some trees, before it struck the ground.
The purpose of the flight was to allow Mr Greenwood to carry out aerial photography. The arrangement was that the passenger would provide a route plan around various properties and the pilot would then fly the route. The pair had flown regularly together for 14 years.
The aircraft took off from Newtownards at 10.47am and flew in a north-westerly direction. The last radio communication between the pilot and air traffic control was at 11.17am, with the final radar point recorded two minutes later.
Witnesses on the ground saw the aircraft circling. Several reported seeing it flying apparently normally before suddenly "nosediving" to the ground.
Two witnesses also reported hearing the engine "spluttering" as the aircraft passed overhead at a low height.
After the aircraft struck the ground witnesses also heard a "popping" noise and then a larger explosion.
There was an intense fire in the cockpit area and inboard section of the right wing, which contained one of the fuel tanks.
Bystanders who arrived on the scene were unable to assist the two occupants.
The AAIB report concluded that the aircraft was flying at low level and low airspeed when, for an undetermined reason, there was a critical reduction in airspeed and a loss of control.
"There is an increased level of risk associated with flying close to the stalling speed without sufficient height to recover from a stall, particularly when focused on a task such as taking aerial photographs," the report added.