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Thursday 5 December 2019

Preliminary report published on Duncormick air crash

A file photo of the accident aircraft from the AAIU report
A file photo of the accident aircraft from the AAIU report

Pádraig Byrne

Witnesses observed parts falling from a plane moments before it crashed into the ground near Duncormick last month, resulting in the deaths of two men.

The eye witness accounts are included in an Air Accident Investigation Unit of Ireland (AAIU) preliminary report into the crash.

Peter Tawse (61) from the New Ross area and 58 year-old John Finnan from Naas, Co Kildare, were both killed instantly when their Rollason Condor hit the ground having taken off from the Irish Light Aviation Society (ILAS) airfield at Ardinagh, Taghmon, on October 6.

The preliminary report outlines how the aircraft had taken off from the Taghmon airfield for an initial flight at 3 p.m. on the day in question.

This flight passed without incidents and included the pilot and instructor undertaking 'a few tight turns, a few stalls and then mostly circuits'.

The report stated that during this earlier flight 'the aircraft handling and performance were reported to be normal and no anomalies were noticed.'

Having returned, and before the fatal flight, the instructor was heard to remark to the pilot 'I suppose I better take the loose bits out of it'.

Some general conversation followed about aerobatics and barrel rolls and a 'full outside check' on the aircraft was carried out.

At approximately 4.10 p.m. the aircraft took off to the south before turning south-west and climbing all the time. It was described as 'a completely normal take-off' and 'a completely normal climb' to at least 3,000 ft.

As part of their investigation, the AAIU contacted a number of witnesses. One eye witness said that they observed the aircraft some minutes before the accident and noted that it executed a number of 'consecutive roll manoeuvres'.

In addition, several witnesses reported hearing waxing and waning engine sounds as the aircraft manoeuvred.

Other witnesses reported that immediately prior to the accident the aircraft executed three loop manoeuvres.

During the descent from the apogee of the third loop, two loud noises (variously described as bangs or cracking sounds) were heard, parts were seen to separate from the aircraft, and the aircraft began spiralling downwards.

The report noted that the main wreckage at the crash site in Gibletstown comprised of propeller, engine, instrument panel, right-hand wing and the root of the left-hand wing.

The underwing fixed undercarriage legs were both still attached.

The two occupants were located approximately 50 metres away from the main wreckage, while the aircraft's tailwheel was located in a ditch close to one of the occupants.

The wreckage was noted to have been scattered over a number of agricultural fields.

Concluding the report, the AAIU stated that the weather on the day of the accident seemed to be reasonably favourable.

Wexford People

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