Coventry fatal air crash caused by 'poor communication'

Wreckage of one of the planes which collided near Coventry Airport The aircraft collided near Coventry Airport

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An inquest jury has criticised poor monitoring and communication by staff at Coventry Airport after a fatal crash between two aircraft.

A Cessna 402 and a Rand KR2, piloted by Brian Normington, 70, of Leamington Spa, collided near the airport on 17 August, 2008.

Mr Normington, who had hand-built his aircraft, and all four people on board the the Cessna 402 were killed.

The jury at Warwickshire Justice Centre delivered a narrative verdict.

The two pilots in the Cessna, Sybille Gautrey, 33, from Towcester, Northamptonshire, and Sophie Hastings from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, were killed.

James Beagley, 34, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Harvey Antrobus, 28, from Fillongley, Warwickshire also died.

All four had worked for survey company Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd, based at the airport.

Their bodies were recovered from Brandon Wood, a day after Mr Normington's body was found near Coombe Abbey, Warwickshire.

'Successful landing unlikely'

The handwritten narrative verdict said there had been insufficient planning prior to the Cessna 402 flight.

The verdict said: "Information given to air traffic control staff was not fully taken into account by the tower control when devising the landing sequence which was unlikely to succeed.

"Further the traffic controller did not monitor or adjust his landing sequence plan in order to minimise the risk of [both aircraft] coming into conflict.

"No information was passed from [the Rand KR2] about the presence and speed of [the Cessna 402]."

Brian Normington (Pic: Warwickshire Police) Brian Normington was one of five people who died

The jury also said the tower controller at the airport provided the Cessna 402 with "inaccurate information" about the other aircraft.

In 2010, a report by the Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) said a contributory factor was that "insufficient or inaccurate information" was given to the pilots who did not see each other or had no time to take avoiding action.

The AAIB report said the flight-landing sequence plan prepared for the flights by the aerodrome controller (ADC) at Coventry Airport was based on an "incomplete understanding" of the nature of the Cessna's flight.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Normington's daughter, Lisa Retford, said: "As a family we're relieved we have finally had the inquest, it's been a traumatic time and we hope lessons have been learned."

Liz Hopkins, Mr Beagley's mother, said: "I would have liked someone to say 'I'm sorry' but no one was going to say that without admitting guilt.

"I just wanted to draw a line under it with a reason and I haven't been given that."

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