Friday, April 13, 2012

Catalina crash 'due to different expectations'

An accident involving a Catalina flying boat during a Fermanagh festival last year was due to different expectations between the pilots and boat crews.

An official report said this could have been resolved during the pilot's briefing before the event.

The Second World War aircraft damaged an elevator when it drifted into a yacht while attempting to moor.

The report said the plane crew expected that after they shut down their engines a tug boat would tow them to a mooring.

The marshal boat crew expected the Catalina to taxi to the mooring under its own power.

The French-owned aircraft flew to Enniskillen last September to take part in the festival at the former RAF airbase at Killadeas, which played a crucial role protecting Allied convoys during World War II.

'Limited experience'

The 70-year-old flying boat had recently been returned to an airworthy condition after a lengthy restoration program.

Accident investigators said the aircraft had not been operated on the water for more than 10 years and, with the exception of the Dutch commander, the crew had limited experience of water operations.

The AAIB report said that during a pilot's briefing held on the morning of the event, specific details on how the Catalina was to moor up were not covered.

After it landed in the water and shut down its engines attempts were made to attach a line from a marshall boat.

But as they tried to pull it to the mooring, the line became tangled in the boat's propeller.

The ground crewman fell into the water as he attempted to prevent the boat becoming separated from the Catalina.

Another marshal boat went to help the man in the water but also became tangled in the line.

A third marshal boat was unable to prevent the aircraft from drifting into the moored yacht, damaging its right elevator.

The Catalina and a French pilot were stranded in Fermanagh for 10 weeks while repairs were carried out.

It eventually took off and returned to Paris at the beginning of December.

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