Report into Bute plane crash published

The scene on the A844 at Kingarth shortly after a CZAW SportCruiser light aircraft crashed on August 9, 2014. (Pic by Zak Harrison)
The scene on the A844 at Kingarth shortly after a CZAW SportCruiser light aircraft crashed on August 9, 2014. (Pic by Zak Harrison)

A report into the Bute plane crash last year which resulted in the death of a 63-year-old man has been published.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s report on the crash, which happened near to Kingarth airstrip at the south-end of the island on August 9, states that the home-built aircraft - a CZAW SportCruiser with the registration G-EWZZ - had been “fitted with unrecorded modifications, which meant that it was not in compliance with its Permit to Fly”.

Calculations showed that while these modifications meant the plane was over its approved weight of 600kg when it left Bute, this was unlikely to have, alone, affected its performance.

The aviation pathologist is quoted in the report as saying that it was a “survivable accident”.

The 53-year-old pilot, who suffered 40 per cent burns, told investigators that he remembered carrying out a pre-flight inspection of the plane prior to take-off from the Kingarth airstrip and had noted nothing of concern, adding that the it “got off the ground, no problem”.

The pilot said the engine then seemed to lose power, and he thought he and his passenger might have to ditch in the sea but he decided instead to return to the airstrip. His last recollection was of the aircraft being nose high, giving him little or no forward visibility before the aircraft struck the ground.

The plane crashed approximately 590m north of the airstrip along the line of a fence and ditch that ran parallel to the A844, with witnesses reporting that the plane seemed to catch fire immediately.

Both men were taken to hospital in Glasgow, but the passenger later died of 80 per cent burns.

The aviation pathologist commented that while commercially available fire-resistant flying clothing might not have altered the fatal outcome, their protective benefits should be highlighted to light-aircraft pilots.

Seven safety recommendations relating to the Ballistic Parachute Recovery System (BPRS), which deploys a parachute by use of a rocket, have been issued as a result of the report.