Newly-repaired plane crash-landed at airfield after it was flown too quickly

Felthorpe Airfield. Photo: Google

Felthorpe Airfield. Photo: Google - Credit: Archant

A newly-repaired plane crash-landed during a test flight after it was flown too quickly.

A report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) says the plane, a Piper J5A Club Cruiser, overran the runway at Felthorpe Airfield, near Norwich, on July 10 last year.

It struck a gate and a tree during the landing, in its first flight since it was involved in a stalled landing accident in 2016.

The 73-year-old pilot and owner, who bought the plane after the 2016 accident and repaired it, successfully flew the plane, but aborted two landings after fearing it was flying too high and fast.

He made the third, but, despite applying the brake, it was already too far along the runway, and, with a public road at the end, 'decided to turn to increase landing distance'.

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But it was not enough, and the aircraft struck a gate and a tree, damaging its right wing and left rear fuselage.

The report, which was published on March 14, said: 'The pilot decided to land at a speed he believed was 5mph higher than the recommended speed. According to figures found during the investigation, it may have been as much as 15mph than the appropriate landing speed.'

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While the pilot had 876 flying hours worth of experience, the report said he had no experience in the Piper Club Cruiser, and had not sought it as he was unsure where to find instruction and the consensus among flying peers was that it was easy to fly.

But the report said he found it difficult to use the heel brakes, which were unfamiliar to him.

The report said the pilot had selected a higher than recommended landing speed 'to compensate for not knowing the stall speed of the aircraft', and said the lack of experience on the aircraft and with the brake controls contributed to the incident.

But the report also said the 'opportunity for the accident' would have been reduced had the Light Aircraft Association been able to give more consideration to the pilot's lack of experience.

It was 'in part due to a misunderstanding between the LAA and one of its inspectors' about which airworthiness process to follow.

They said the importance of 'unambiguous communication' had now been reinforced at the LAA.

The plane is registered to owner George Crowe, from Hellesdon. We contacted Mr Crowe.

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