Investigations continue one week on from fatal Beccles Airfield crash

beccles airfield crash

Emergency services responded to a fatal aircraft crash at Beccles Airfield last week. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

The aircraft which crashed at Beccles Airfield, leading to the death of a pilot, has now been removed as investigations continue.

Emergency services were initially called after a light aircraft crashed at the airfield on Thursday, March 24.

Police, fire crews and the ambulance service were dispatched to the scene at about 2pm on the day.

Some 11 emergency service vehicles were called, including seven fire engines from Woodbridge, Leiston, Wrentham, Beccles and Lowestoft South stations.

beccles airfield

The light aircraft crashed into a field next to the Beccles Airfield runway - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

A Suffolk police spokesman initially confirmed a light aircraft crashed at the airfield, but the pilot's condition was not known at the time.

Wreckage of the craft could be seen in the rapeseed field northwest of the runway last week.

One onlooker at the scene at the time said: "There's lots of emergency services and an air ambulance."

emergency services

Multiple emergency services were called to the scene. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

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While the passer-by did not see or hear the crash, he added: "The helicopter landed in a cornfield and I heard all the emergency crews racing to the scene after."

One man, who did not wish to be named, said he was cycling home when he saw the overturned aircraft in the rapeseed field while fire teams hosed the smoking machine.

“Whether it was a mechanical failure or human error, I don’t know,” he said. 

air ambulance

An air ambulance was seen during the day as well. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Another man who regularly drives around the area to watch aircraft taking off and landing said he arrived while emergency services were tending to the crashed aircraft.

One air ambulance came and landed in the nearby rapeseed oil field, but the man was unsure whether anyone was loaded into it.

The man said it looked like any visitors flying to the airfield would probably be needing to find another way home while the runway was occupied by emergency services.

ambulance

An ambulance at the scene last week. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Later in the evening at around 9pm it was confirmed that a man had died following the crash.

Police confirmed that no one else was on board the aircraft when it crashed at the airfield.

Emergency services remained on the scene throughout Thursday.

An area of the airfield had been cordoned off during the evening while officers dealt with the incident and the Air Accident Investigation Branch were informed following the death.

The pilot's next of kin have been informed.

While reports are unconfirmed, bloggers on a local aircraft online forum believe that the pilot was not from the Beccles area and was using the airfield on a flight outside of his hometown.

The next day on Friday, March 25, it was confirmed that an investigation had been launched following on from confirmation that the pilot had died.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed that an investigation was under way with investigators working on site.

A spokesman for the AAIB said last Friday: “An accident at Beccles aerodrome involving a light aircraft was notified to the AAIB on Thursday, March 24.

"An investigation has been launched into the accident.

"A team of inspectors arrived at the accident site on Thursday to begin gathering evidence."

Investigators continued work on site and on Monday, March 28, revealed that the investigation into the pilot's death would take nine to 12 months to complete.

The spokesperson added: "There is no update yet in terms of the investigation.

"This is very early days so far and investigations like these take nine to 12 months on average to fully investigate."

As of today (March 31), the AAIB has confirmed that all investigators have now left the site at Beccles Airfield.

The aircraft has now been transported back to the AAIB base in Farnborough, Hampshire for further investigation.

The airfield is used by the Rain Air Flying Club, used by trainee pilots looking to gain their private pilot's licence, UK Parachuting and Mid Anglia Microlights - all of which have been contacted for comment.

It is not the first time a crash has happened at the airfield after a gyrocopter crashed shortly after take-off in August 2021.

A man in his 50s, the only person on board the light aircraft, was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for further care.