Monday, December 24, 2012

Microlight crash pilot did not have permit to fly in Ireland

The pilot of a microlight that suffered substantial damage after hitting an electric fence in West Cork on Apr 6 last did not have a permit to fly in Ireland.

The 51-year-old male, who hit the fence while landing at Enniskeane Airfield, 17km west of Bandon, had a permit to fly in Britain but did not have permission from the Irish Aviation Authority.

A report compiled by air accident investigators said while landing on the runway, the microlight’s main wheel “caught in an electrified wire fence leading to a heavy landing on the runway and damage to the aircraft”.

Photographs of the aircraft following the accident show that both the nose wheel and the right-hand main wheel had separated and there was also some damage to the engine cowling.

The pilot said he was familiar with the runway — a level grass strip about 400m long, located alongside the River Bandon — but that while making his approach, he encountered “a very strong down draught [downward movement of air] just prior to the threshold”.

The pilot said he applied power but realized his right-hand wheel had snagged the single strand wire fence, electrified to contain farm animals. He reduced power and the aircraft came to rest about 17m from the runway threshold.

Air accident investigators from the Department of Transport said the aircraft had a British permit to fly but there was no record of permission having been given by Irish authorities to operate in Ireland.

The pilot said the reason he had not complied with the requirements in seeking permission to operate in Ireland was due to an oversight, as he had believed a home-built microlight could fly under certain provisions.

The investigators concluded that the pilot was unprepared for a down-draft which resulted in the aircraft’s right-hand wheel getting caught in an electrified fence and a consequent heavy landing, which resulted in damage to the aircraft undercarriage and engine cowling.

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