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Co-pilot was flying plane when it hit runway in fog

THE mother of the captain of the Cork plane crash said she was surprised to hear the co-pilot had been flying the plane, rather than her son.

It has emerged that Jordi Sola Lopez (31) didn't take over the controls even after two failed landing attempts by co-pilot Andrew Cantle (27).

Six people were killed when the Belfast to Cork Manx2 plane crashed at Cork Airport

Rosa Lopez said: "I'm sure no matter who was at the controls both Jordi and the co-pilot would have been very concentrated on landing the plane.

"In a situation like that, landing for a third time in fog, they would both have been totally concentrated on the landing.

"To me the only thing that really matters is that I will never see my son again, that is the reality of it."

The co-pilot was flying the ill-fated plane when it crashed, an investigation has found.

British co-pilot Mr Cantle, who had only 17 hours' experience flying that type of plane, was in the pilot's seat when the 19-year-old Fairchild Metroliner crashed on the runway on February 10.

The flight's captain, Spanish pilot Mr Lopez, did not take over the controls -- even after two failed landing attempts in the fog by the co-pilot.

This is despite Mr Lopez's family stating he was most familiar with the Metroliner -- and had actually made two aborted landings in fog the day prior to the Cork crash before successfully landing the plane a third time.

But a new report shows that Captain Lopez instructed Mr Cantle to "go around" and overfly the runway just four seconds before the fatal crash.

Preliminary findings of the Department of Transport's Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) yesterday revealed that the flight experience of the two crew members is forming a crucial part of the probe.

Experts examining the cause of the crash have found no mechanical problems with the plane -- or systems during the flight.

The AAIU report also stated that the crew were told weather conditions were clear enough to land at Kerry Airport in the minutes before the disaster in which six people died.





criticised

Flight authorisation sheets show that Mr Cantle had been designated by Captain Lopez as "flying pilot" of the aircraft.

This decision was last night criticised by an ex-Royal Air Force pilot who is now a lawyer representing Mr Cantle's partner.

Jim Morris, a partner in Irwin Mitchell Aviation Law Practice, said the poor weather conditions coupled with the fact that there was no autopilot on the plane made the captain's decision "questionable".

However, Mr Lopez's family last night insisted the Spaniard should not be blamed for the tragedy.

Investigators also believe a warning sound went off to indicate the plane had stalled, however this has yet to be definitely established. If the plane did stall, it could have caused it to lose control.

Mr Cantle had only joined the company just over two weeks before the crash. Mr Lopez only infrequently operated as captain after a recent promotion to the rank.

hnews@herald.ie