Monday 29 May 2017

My life is now a nightmare, says girlfriend of tragic pilot

Ed Carty

The girlfriend and parents of a co-pilot killed in the Cork Airport crash a year ago are suing two companies involved in running the flight.

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

He had flown the Manx2.com flight from Belfast on February 10 last year.

His partner Beth Webster -- who is a flight attendant -- said yesterday she was struggling to cope with life without him as lawyers marked the anniversary with a £1m-plus (€1.2m-plus) lawsuit.

"Since the accident my life has been a living nightmare," she 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."

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.

Ireland's 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.

Failed

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."

Mr Cantle's father, John, said: "Andrew was a brilliant son, brilliant brother, brilliant pilot and aviator who touched his dream.

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

He believes that such a problem may not have resulted in a crash if there had been a more senior and experienced pilot on board the flight.

"A more experienced captain would have made the decision to re-route."

Manx 2 ended its Belfast and Cork service within weeks of the crash.

Irish Independent

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