'No mechanical failings' on fog disaster aircraft
Published 16/03/2011 | 05:00
Wreckage of the plane is removed from the Cork airport runway following the February 10 crash. Steve Humphreys
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 Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) 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 probe to confirm that the aircraft did not touch down in the centre of the runway after a third attempt to land at Cork Airport.
However, AAIU investigators are continuing to look for the cause of the Manx2 plane crash on February 10. Two pilots and four passengers died.
Waterford survivor Donal Walsh said he was notified by email that the families would receive details of the investigation today.
The Department of Transport was last night examining the report on the tragedy.
A department source told the Irish Independent it was a "very detailed document" which needed to be studied carefully as the findings were not straightforward.
Last month, the Irish Independent revealed that the flying hours clocked up by the pilots of the Manx2 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 the airline 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 it for three weeks and had 720 hours flight time -- however, other aviation sources disputed this, saying he had around 300 hours of flight time.
However, the families of the two pilots indicated that they were relatively inexperienced. Mr Lopez had only been promoted to captain in recent months.
The right wing tip of the Manx2 aircraft clipped the runway as it attempted to land for the third time in dense fog.
The 19-year old Fairchild Metroliner then skidded for 190 metres on its back along the runway before catching fire as it came to a stop on a grass verge.
Two black boxes are being examined as well as the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder.