Pilot 'died before light aircraft crash' in Oxfordshire

Image caption,
Witnesses said the plane burst into flames 30ft (9m) high within seconds of the impact

A Ryanair pilot flying a private light aircraft that crashed killing both him and a passenger may have died before it went down, an accident report has said.

The Piper PA aircraft crashed over Bladon, Oxfordshire, on 15 January.

Tests showed that pilot, Anthony Corr, 55, had severe coronary heart disease and a report said there was evidence he may have died before the crash.

Mr Corr, of Stratford-upon-Avon, died alongside passenger Richard Leonard, 45, of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said it was likely father-of-two Mr Corr had become "incapacitated" soon after his last radio transmission during the flight, which had taken off from Oxford.

The report said it was likely that some time after Mr Leonard, who was also a qualified private pilot, had taken control and tried to fly the aircraft.

However, the AAIB added that the father-of-two Mr Leonard had not flown the aircraft before and was unprepared to take over.

The report said the fire after the crash had prevented a full technical examination of the aircraft systems, but tests which could be performed revealed "no indication of any technical problem" with the aircraft before it hit the ground.

'Great passion'

The report said the main flying activity of Mr Corr, who had been at Ryanair for many years, was as a training captain on Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Image caption,
Both men died in the light aircraft crash in January

The AAIB added that Mr Corr held a Class One medical certificate - a qualification needed to secure a commercial pilot's licence.

It said: "However, there is evidence that such medical examinations are not necessarily successful at detecting coronary heart disease."

Paying tribute to Mr Corr at the time of the crash, his family said he was mentioned in dispatches for his bomb disposal work in Northern Ireland in 1989.

They described him as "a superlative pilot whose great passion was for aviation".

Witnesses said the plane burst into flames 30ft (9m) high within seconds of the impact.

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