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Manx2 Fairchild Metroliner

On 10 February 2011, Manx2 Flight 1700 departed Belfast (Northern Ireland) to Cork (Ireland) carrying ten passengers and two crew.The aircraft was a twin turbo-prop Swearingen Fairchild

Metroliner III. The way that it was owned and operated was complicated, as it was owned by a Spanish company called Airlada, and operated by Spanish carrier Flightline, which leased the aircraft and crew to Manx 2, the ticket seller. The aircraft crashed during its third attempt to land at Cork Airport in thick fog. The pilot and co-pilot, as well as four passengers, were tragically killed, and other passengers were seriously injured.

Using his professional experience of flying twin engine turbo-prop aircraft on flight instruments in poor weather, Jim Morris analysed the three approaches flown, the experience of the captain, the experience of the copilot, the airmanship decisions of the captain, how he managed the co-pilot and how the operator had trained, managed and rostered the crew. At a very early stage following the accident, Jim was able conclude with confidence that the co-pilot was not at fault – he had only just qualified as a co-pilot and was only two weeks into his first job as a pilot; hence he was very inexperienced and very reliant on the captain to make the correct airmanship decisions. As a result of this analysis by Jim, a case was filed in the High Court of Dublin against Flightline and Airlada.

When the final accident report into the crash was published by the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit, Jim conducted a detailed analysis. The report revealed a catalogue of issues which led to the tragic chain of events, including:

  • Flightline contravened EU standards by failing to provide adequate oversight for the flight and failed to adequately train and check the captain.
  • Inappropriate crew rostering lead to the pairing of an inexperienced captain, who qualified just four days previously, with an inexperienced co-pilot who only had 19 hours of flight time with Flightline and had not completed his final training.
  • Contrary to regulations, the captain decided to make two unsuccessful approaches then the final (fatal) approach when visibility was below required minima.
  • On the final approach the captain continued the descent below the minimum height in poor visibility and operated the engines in a prohibited manner, which caused the aircraft to crash inverted onto the ground.

The serious failings identified in the Final Report confirmed Jim’s early analysis that the co-pilot was blameless and that the accident was caused primarily by failings of Flightline and the captain of the aircraft.

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