Sunday 20 October 2019

Investigation launched to determine cause of light aircraft crash in which two men died

The scene of the light aircraft crash in Belan, Co Kildare
The scene of the light aircraft crash in Belan, Co Kildare
Stock picture

Callum Lavery and Tom Brady

GARDAÍ and the Air Accident Investigation Unit have launched a full investigation into the deaths of two men in a light aircraft crash in Co Kildare.

The men, aged in their 50s and 70s, died when the two-seater ‘BRM NG5’ light aircraft they were travelling in crashed after leaving Kilrush airstrip in Kildare at around 7:20pm yesterday evening.

The men were originally from Kildare Town and Dundrum, Dublin.

Gardai were alerted to the incident at 1am this morning when the plane failed to return to the runway.

Ground and aerial searches were carried out by gardai and the Irish Coast Guard.

The wreckage was found in Belan, Co. Kildare at around 4:30am this morning by Irish Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Unit 116.

Rescuers said there was no immediate indication why the craft crashed.

"It looked like the craft just literally dropped out of the sky, like a stone", one said today.

Speaking at this scene this afternoon, Superintendent Martin Walker said that the bodies have since been moved to Naas General Hospital where a post-mortem will be carried out.

Mr Walker said they were unable to disclose the names of the men killed in the crash at this time.

“When emergency personal arrived at the scene, two males, one in their 70s and one in their 50s were pronounced dead at the scene.

“Following consultation with the deputy coroner the bodies have been moved to Naas General Hospital where a post-mortem will be done later this afternoon.

“The AAIU have primacy on this investigation and we are here to assist and preserve the scene until they have finished their enquiries.

“In the interim we have appointed family liaison officers for both families in Dublin and Kildare.

“We are not releasing the identities of the two deceased until all extended family have been notified of the death,” he concluded.

The AAIU is currently onsite investigating the scene, however it said that heavy rainfall has hampered its investigation.

They expect to remove the aircraft from the scene in the next couple of hours to their Gormanstown, Co Meath base for further investigation.

No flight recording device such as a black box was on board the light aircraft and the crew had not made communication with Air Traffic Control during its flight, nor had it an obligation to do so due to the airspace it was flying in.

AAIU Inspector, Howard Hughes said that investigation must be “careful and methodical” to avoid the rick of spoiling potential evidence.

“What we do now is a field investigation, following that we recover the wreckage which is the process that is going on now to our facility in Gormanstown where we will determine what further steps need to be taken in terms of examining the aircrafts structure, the engine, the engine components.

“The rain has not made it any easier, at the moment I would estimate that it is going to take at least another hour if not two hours to get the aircraft secured onto the truck that we are using.

“We need to do that in a manner that doesn’t’ disturb any potential evidence.”

Local residents have said the community has been left shaken by the crash.

Owner of the local Moone High Cross Inn, John Joseph Clinch said incidents like this have never happened in the area before.

“It’s a huge shock for the local community.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before, it’s a massive event and we are all in a state of shock and sadness for the two men that sadly lost their lives."

Local Fine Gael councillor Ivan Keatley said: “I know they are not locals to the area, one is from Kildare town and the other is from Dublin. I believe one of them was an instructor.

"Apparently, the aircraft was new and arrived only a few months ago. I have just come from the local community shop and obviously news is only filtering through this morning."

The Irish Aviation Authority has said it is supporting the AAIU investigation and offers sincere condolences to the deceased and their families.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News