Belfast Telegraph

‘No faults’ found with Cork crash plane

By Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Ralph Riegel

Early findings of the Cork air disaster are expected to reveal that the plane had no mechanical failings when it crashed in heavy fog.

The Republic’s Air Accident Investigation Unit will inform the families of the six dead and the survivors of their preliminary findings today after a five-week probe.

A law firm representing one of the survivors expects the investigation to confirm the aircraft did not touch down in the centre of the runway after a third attempt to land at Cork Airport.

However the AAIU is continuing to look for the cause of the Manx2 plane crash on February 10 in which two pilots and four passengers died.

The Department of Transport was last night examining the report.

A department source said it was a “very detailed document” which needed to be studied carefully as the findings were not straightforward.

Last month it was revealed that the flying hours clocked up by the pilots of the aircraft would be crucial to the official investigation into the tragedy. Manx2.com chairman Noel Hayes insisted both men were “absolutely” qualified to handle the plane in the fog.

Spanish pilot Jordi Lopez (31) only infrequently operated as captain, while his British co-pilot, Andrew Cantle (27), joined the airline just three weeks before the crash.

Mr Lopez was with Manx2 for 10 months and had 1,800 hours of flight time on that type of aircraft, the airline said.

It also said Mr Cantle had been with the airline for three weeks and had 720 hours of flight time — however, other aviation sources disputed this, saying he had around 300 hours of flight time.

The families of the two pilots indicated they were relatively inexperienced.

Background

The passengers killed were father-of-two Brendan McAleese, originally from Tannaghmore, Co Antrim; Pat Cullinan, a partner in the Belfast office of accountancy firm KPMG, who was from Omagh, Co Tyrone; Michael Evans, who worked as deputy Harbour Commissioner in Belfast; and Richard Noble, a businessman based in Belfast. The Spanish pilot and his British co-pilot also died.

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