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Two men died in plane crash after it ran out of fuel


The scene of a light aircraft crash in Birr, Co Offaly where the men were killed

The scene of a light aircraft crash in Birr, Co Offaly where the men were killed


The scene of a light aircraft crash in Birr, Co Offaly where the men were killed

TWO men died in a plane crash after the aircraft effectively ran out of fuel, an inquest heard.

Trainee pilot Damien Deegan (31) from Co Offaly and flight instructor Niall Doherty (31) from Co Tipperary were both killed instantly when the Cessna plane crashed near Birr airfield on November 11, 2012.

An inquest found the two men had died as a result of injuries "consistent with being involved in an aircraft accident".

Coroner Brian Mahon noted the "air accident was caused by a stall and associated loss of control due to power loss, caused by fuel starvation."

He asked the jury for an addendum to their verdict recommending that safety recommendations from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) report be "implemented in every private airfield in this jurisdiction".

The inquest was told the plane had completed five training flights before Mr Deegan got into the plane with Mr Doherty.


Jack O'Keeffe, a student pilot who had completed a training flight with Mr Doherty, called 999 on witnessing the plane go down.

Another student pilot, Emmet Lennon, who had completed a flight with Mr Doherty before Mr O'Keeffe, observed, "the aircraft lost power suddenly and it banked left quite sharply" before descending from view.

The inquest heard Mr O'Keeffe had refuelled the plane, which burns 22 litres an hour on average, with 60 litres before Mr Lennon's flight.

On a plane of this type, around 13 litres of fuel is "unusable", and at this fuel level the aircraft can suffer from fuel starvation, the inquest was told.

AAIU Inspector Paddy Judge said the plane was carrying 9.6 litres of fuel when it crashed. Mr Mahon noted the plane had "basically run out of fuel".

He described the number of lessons given by Mr Doherty on the day as "quite a lot".

He noted both pilots were correctly licensed.

Barrister Brendan Hyland for the Doherty family noted the Ormand Flying Club's chief instructor was "very happy with the competence and professionalism of the flying instructor".

Mr Mahon said "these two young men have been taken from their families in an instant and I want to offer them all our sympathies today".

Irish Independent