Monday 21 August 2017

Family sue over death of pilot killed in Cork crash

Co-pilot Andrew Cantle with his girlfriend Beth Webster. Photo: PA
Co-pilot Andrew Cantle with his girlfriend Beth Webster. Photo: PA

Ed Carty

THE girlfriend and parents of a co-pilot killed in a plane crash a year ago today are suing two companies involved in running the flight.

Andrew Cantle, 27, from Sunderland, was newly qualified and had just started his first airline job when he died in the crash in thick fog at Cork Airport.



He had flown the Manx2.com flight from Belfast.



Today, his partner, Beth Webster, said she was struggling to cope with life without him as lawyers marked the anniversary with a €1 million-plus lawsuit.



"Since the accident my life has been a living nightmare," the flight attendant said. "Andy and I had a bright and promising future together and now I struggle to cope with life without him.



"My friends and family continue to help me through this ordeal, unlike Manx 2, from whom I have yet to hear a single word of condolence despite the fact that Andy was wearing their uniform and flying an aircraft in Manx 2 livery."



Six people, including newly promoted Spanish captain Jordi Gola Lopez, 31, died and six others were injured in the crash.



The lawsuit, by London firm Irwin Mitchell and Dublin firm Murray Flynn Maguire, is against FlightlineBCN, which was granted the Air Operator Certificate to run the service, and Airlada, which leased the plane and crew.



Lawyers claim the accident was avoidable and was caused by the actions of the captain and whoever rostered very inexperienced crew together in poor weather.



The lawsuit claims that Ms Webster and Mr Cantle's family suffered severe trauma after seeing images of the crash on television as they were being notified. She is also claiming a possible seven-figure sum for financial loss from her partner's likely 30-year career.



The latest update from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) this week revealed problems with engine No 2 of the twin turboprop Fairchild Metroliner which could have caused an uneven thrust from the wings. The plane is designed to be flown on one engine if necessary.



It also revealed that the captain took the plane's power controls seconds before it crashed.



There were two failed attempts to land in the dense fog and breaches of aviation rules on height limits.



Ms Webster said: "My family, Andy's family and I have never doubted for a second Andy's abilities as a pilot and the interim report appears to confirm our strongly held beliefs.



"I personally would like to see a review of the current aviation law in order to prevent any similar tragedies from occurring."



Mr Cantle's father, John, said: "Andrew was a brilliant son, brilliant brother, brilliant pilot and aviator who touched his dream. Andrew had many friends through university and flying school who are young, keen pilots.



"We cannot bring back what we have lost but if this stops other families going through what we have had to this year and in future years then at least a part of Andrew will be remembered."



Jim Morris, a former RAF pilot and partner in Irwin Mitchell, said: "We hope that the final (AAIU) report will deal in detail with all captaincy, operational and technical issues that contributed to this accident so that the families and victims can understand the chain of events that led to this accident.



"However, the aim of the accident investigation is not to apportion blame, but to determine what caused the accident to improve flight safety.



"As such, on behalf of Beth and Andrew's family, we have now filed this case in Ireland so that those responsible can be held to account for this wholly avoidable tragedy."



One section of the claim is being dealt with by the High Court while the Personal Injuries Assessment Board is examining the issue of dependency.



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