Pilot's father angry at inquest findings

By Matthew Bates Thursday 18 October 2012 Updated: 18/10 10:18

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James Beagley was one of five pilots killed in a 2008 mid-air crash over Coombe Abbey. (s)

A FATHER of one of five pilots killed in a plane crash over Coombe Abbey has slammed the findings of an inquest into their deaths.

Alan Beagley, father of 34-year-old Warwick man James Beagley, said he was hugely disappointed after the jury was unable to attach blame to any person or organisation for the part they played in the crash.

The jury concluded the mid-air collision, on August 17, 2008, happened after the pilots either did not see each other or did not have time to take avoiding action.

The verdict mirrors that of an investigation by aviation experts in 2010 - and Mr Beagley branded it nonsense to come back to the same conclusion as that report.

"My grandson could have come to that conclusion," he said.

"My honest response to the verdict is huge disappointment only tempered by the fact that ten days ago, before the inquest started, it was explained to us that once again we are in this position where they are not going to apportion blame and I struggle with that.

"It's disappointing personally because of our loss and the loss of the other families, but also it is disappointing the system does not have a structure whereby they can correct the inadequacies.

"I've never been so exhausted from sitting down for the whole week."

Mr Beagley, originally from High Wycombe, had been a passenger on one of the aircraft along with 28-year-old John 'Harvey' Antrobus, from Fillongley, and pilots Sophie Hastings, 28, from Derbyshire, and Sybille Gautrey, 33, from Towcester.

Their Cessna 402 collided with a kit-plane Rand KR-2, piloted by 70-year-old Brian Normington, from Blackdown, near Leamington. All involved in the crash, around 1,000ft in the skies over Coombe Abbey, were killed.

Coroner Sean McGovern, who oversaw the inquest at Leamington Justice Centre, said technical language heard throughout the hearing had made it difficult for the jury to come to a decision. Their verdict said four factors had contributed to the crash.

The Cessna crew had all been employees of Baginton-based Reconnaissance Ventures and were carrying out specific work, called Calibration Training, which saw their plane travel 40 knots faster than usual.

But the jury said while the operator considered risks associated with the flight, it did not discuss the work with Air Traffic Control (ATC) management.

The landing sequence planned by controllers was 'unlikely to succeed', the jury said, after the nature of the flight was not fully taken into account.

Errors by ATC included no information being provided to Mr Normington about the presence of the Cessna, which compromised his ability to see and avoid it.

Inaccurate information was also passed to the Cessna's crew over the position of the kit plane.

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