AAIB: Cherokee on club fly-out to Le Touquet disappeared in IMC

Photo: AAIB

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has published a Special Bulletin concerning the loss of Piper Cherokee Arrow II (G-EGVA) that went missing approximately 20nm west of Le Touquet, France, on 2 April.

G-EGVA was one of seven aircraft taking part in a club ‘fly-out’ from Wellesbourne Mountford Aerodrome to Le Touquet in France.

The AAIB bulletin says:

A line of highly convective cloud was forecast on the intended route in the English Channel. As they approached the middle of the Channel, one of the pilots of G-EGVA, which was operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), reported to London Information that they were in cloud.  Neither of the pilots onboard was qualified to fly in cloud.  Shortly after this transmission the aircraft disappeared from radar.

An extensive search of the area was coordinated by the UK and French Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centres but neither the aircraft nor its occupants were found. The available evidence, at the time of issue of this report, suggests that control of the aircraft was lost when it entered cloud.

This Special Bulletin is published to remind pilots of the danger of entering cloud when not qualified to fly in IMC (instrument rating), and highlights the guidance available in the CAA Skyway Code and Safety Sense leaflets.

Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents said, “This was a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the loved ones of the missing pilots at this time.

“The accident highlights how hazardous it is to fly into cloud when not suitably qualified or when not in current practice in instrument flying.

“Sadly, the AAIB has investigated numerous accidents when control of an aircraft was lost in these circumstances.

“Pilots are reminded of the importance of pre-flight weather decision making and always having contingency plans just in case the weather proves to be worse than expected.”

The Investigation continues to examine operational, technical, and human factors which might have contributed to this accident. A final report will be issued in due course.

The full Special Bulletin is available on the AAIB website.

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1 comment

  • SGS66 says:

    This is tragic. Better planning can help. But if your planning lets you down make sure you have practised recently the recovery strategy for
    1. having entered cloud
    2. approaching cloud
    As for 2 it is better to slow down as cruise speed is too fast for a VFR only rated pilot approaching problematic cloud so put in a stage of flap and get the rpm down to 1900 say for a PA28 and TRIM for Level flight.
    No point me saying more, it is better to get an instructor to help while your skies are blue.

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