Search operation continues in North Sea as plane crashes off Dutch coast

The Cirrus SR20 that crashed off the Dutch coast. Photo: Jon Wickenden

The Cirrus SR20 that crashed off the Dutch coast. Photo: Jon Wickenden - Credit: MUST credit Jon Wickenden

A Dutch naval ship has joined a major search operation today to find a plane which crashed off the Netherlands coast yesterday afternoon after taking off from the UK. The pilot is feared dead.

Dutch Coastguard search for a light aircraft on Monday night which crashed off the Netherlands Coast

Dutch Coastguard search for a light aircraft on Monday night which crashed off the Netherlands Coast. It is believed to have flown from Norfolk on Monday evening. - Credit: Archant

The plane, an Essex-registered Cirrus SR20, was heading to Germany when it crashed off the coast at Petten in the province of North Holland shortly before 3pm yesterday.

Dutch Coastguard initially said the plane took off from Norwich Airport and was heading to the German island of Sylt.

But on Tuesday morning, they issued a correction, stating the plane took off from Gloucester and was heading to Osnabruck, Germany.

However, the plane had made contact with Norwich Airport when it came within 30 miles of it during the flight.

Dutch Coastguard search for a light aircraft on Monday night which crashed off the Netherlands Coast

Dutch Coastguard search for a light aircraft on Monday night which crashed off the Netherlands Coast. It is believed to have flown from Norfolk on Monday evening. - Credit: Archant

A spokesman for Norwich Airport said: 'Contrary to some reports, the aircraft in question did not originate from Norwich Airport.

'We provided a standard air traffic control transit service to this aircraft which we understand from the pilot originated in Gloucester and was en route to Germany. Our air traffic control unit was in contact with the flight from 12:58 and we handed it on the next air traffic control agency at 13.07.'

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Dutch police are now investigating the crash. They said the pilot, a 76-year-old German, was feared dead.

The pilot took off from Gloucestershire Airport at about midday yesterday and according to the flight plan was heading for Munster-Osnabruck Airport in Germany.

Dutch Coastguard search for a light aircraft on Monday night which crashed off the Netherlands Coast

Dutch Coastguard search for a light aircraft on Monday night which crashed off the Netherlands Coast. It is believed to have flown from Norfolk on Monday evening. - Credit: Archant

Just before 3pm it disappeared from radar.

The rescue operation was called off late last night after a search involving divers and boats. It resumed again this morning, Dutch Coastguard said.

According to reports, some wreckage was recovered but the Dutch Coastguard said this morning that there was no sign of the pilot.

They posted some photos of the rescue operation on Twitter last night.

https://twitter.com/KNRM/status/684236112760598529

A Dutch naval ship with special sonar equipment was also part of the search.

It was not clear whether the plane's parachute had been deployed or if an emergency signal had been sent out before impact.

The Dutch Telegraph said initial reports suggested that there were two people in the aircraft, but it was later confirmed it was just the pilot.

While the cause of the crash is unknown, the weather and visibility at the time were said to be poor and could have caused navigation problems.

The Cirrus SR20 is an American piston-engine and the first general aviation aircraft equipped with a parachute to lower the plane safely to the ground after a loss of control.

•Do you have any information about the crash? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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