Aircraft engine failure caused Hertfordshire parachute drama

The Cirrus SR22 crash siteImage source, AAIB
Image caption,
The aircraft's parachute recovery system allowed the plane to descend into a field

A plane had to make an emergency landing by deploying a parachute after being hit by a "catastrophic engine failure", investigators have found.

The Cirrus SR22 landed in a field near Benington, Hertfordshire, on 9 June.

Pilot Jonathan Cobb, 60, successfully operated the aircraft's parachute recovery system which allowed the plane to descend into a field.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said engine failure probably occurred due to insufficient oil.

Mr Cobb and his passenger both escaped uninjured.

The AAIB report said the plane had taken off from North Weald airfield, near Harlow, and that about six minutes into the flight, an oil pressure warning came on and grey smoke began pouring out of the engine.

The pilot reduced the engine power and turned around to return to North Weald.

Image caption,
Jonathan Cobb was not injured in the emergency landing
Image source, AAIB
Image caption,
Jonathan Cobb had been flying a friend to an airfield near Sheffield for a birthday meal

Realising he could not make it back to the airfield, "not confident that he could make a safe landing" and concerned the engine might catch fire, the pilot sent a mayday and, at about 800ft (243.8m), deployed the Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System (CAPS).

It "operated normally", the aircraft descended into a field.

Media caption,
Aircraft deploys parachute near Benington

The AAIB report said the engine failure "most probably occurred because of an insufficient quantity of oil" and concluded it was "due to overheating of the connecting rod cap bolts as a result of insufficient cooling by the engine oil".

Image source, David Stuckey
Image caption,
Jonathan Cobb said his rigorous safty training allowed him to land the Cirrus SR22 safely
Image source, David Stuckey
Image caption,
An air ambulance and paramedics were "scrambled to the site" of the landing

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