Belfast Telegraph

Captain took control before crash

A newly promoted captain took a plane's power controls seconds before it crashed a year ago in thick fog at Cork Airport, accident investigators have revealed.

A recording from the cockpit during the third, fatal approach revealed Spanish commander Jordi Gola Lopez, 31, asked for the levers from co-pilot Andrew Cantle as he struggled to touch down.

The ill-fated Manx2.com flight from Belfast crashed on February 10, 2011 - killing six people, including the captain and co-pilot, and injuring six others.

Investigators have also identified problems with engine No 2 of the twin turboprop plane which could have caused an uneven thrust from either side of the plane.

Jim Morris, of Irwin Mitchell aviation law firm in London, representing Mr Cantle's partner Beth Webster, said the one-year anniversary on Friday will be a very difficult time.

Former RAF pilot Mr Morris said: "Mr Cantle flew from Belfast to Cork that morning and tried to land twice in thick fog - he would have been exhausted at this stage. Between being newly qualified with little experience and rostered with a new captain, questions must be asked of the flight operators.

"Between the captain requiring the co-pilot to fly and the aircraft going below the desired height before aborting landing, it's clear the captain had mismanaged the flight from a flight safety perspective. Andrew Cantle was put in an impossible situation."

A lawsuit against FlightlineBCN, which was granted the Air Operator Certificate to run the service, and Airlada, which leased the plane and crew, is expected to be launched in Ireland this week.

Data from the flight recorder, taken 106 hours before the accident, also shows a mismatch between the power delivered from either side of the ill-fated Fairchild Metro 3 plane. The report does not make it clear if this discrepancy would have created an uneven thrust.

Manx2.com said it would be inappropriate to comment further as the inquiry is ongoing. A spokeswoman said: "This is a very thorough investigation, and with a number of technical and regulatory aspects still being explored, the AAIU continues to have our fullest support and co-operation."

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