The father of a Chester pilot killed when his plane crashed at Hawarden Airport says ‘questions remain’ over the investigation after an official report was published.
Gordon Vickers, owner of Chester’s Mill Hotel, thinks the probe should have examined whether or not the plane's instruments played a part in the crash on November 15 last year, which killed son Gary, 58, and his partner Kaye Clarke, 42.
Last week the Air Accident Investigation Branch revealed that the plane had not been carrying enough fuel to safely complete the flight, losing power at a late stage of the approach.
It said: “The majority of usable fuel at the time of the accident was in the auxiliary tanks, which were not selected for engine feed. From the available evidence it is probable that the pilot originally intended to complete the flight using fuel from the main tanks only and loaded them with what he considered to be a sufficient quantity. However, the main fuel tank quantity was insufficient for safe completion of the flight.”
But Mr Vickers was ‘not fully happy’ with the findings, and said the important matter of fuel gauges had not been addressed.
He said: “The pilot can only know how much fuel is in each tank by reading the gauges and before take off, the pilot would plan how much fuel would be required for the flight, then would fly using the fuel from both tanks.
“He would fly on the reserve tanks with each engine, always allowing enough fuel to be in the main tanks for landing. Were the fuel gauges in the cockpit showing the correct reading for the two fuel tanks feeding the two engines?”
Mr Vickers added: “Unfortunately there was not enough fuel in the left engine main tank which the pilot was using to land. But enough in the reserve tank for a further 45 minutes flying. Therefore the question has to be asked were the fuel gauges working correctly? No pilot would land on a tank which showed empty on the gauges.”
Post-mortem examinations found Mr Vickers died instantly in the crash from head and chest injuries while Miss Clarke died from shock and haemorrhage later on at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Tests for alcohol and drugs were negative.
Speaking soon after the crash, Miss Clarke’s mother Angela told the Chronicle: “Kaye and Gary absolutely idolised each other. He was a fantastic pilot and very experienced. We never had any doubts about our daughter going up there with him because he was so professional.”