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Pilot in Channel crash had insufficient qualifications, investigation finds

A AAIB investigation into a plane that crashed in the English Channel showed the pilot did not have the correct qualifications for the weather conditions

Pilot Sascha Schornstein

An investigation into a plane that crashed in the English Channel after leaving Blackbushe last year showed the pilot did not have the correct qualifications for the weather conditions he was flying in.

The reasons for the crash remains a mystery as Farnborough's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was unable to determine the cause of the accident.

Pilot Sascha Schornstein perished in the crash about 15 miles off the coast of Dungeness, Kent, on July 21 last year, after taking off from Blackbushe Airport.

The 36-year-old German national, who lived in London, was the only person on board the single-engine Cirrus SR22 private aircraft and was heading for Le Touquet airport, in north western France.

A report from the AAIB, published on Thursday April 10, stated that Mr Schornstein had expressed concerns about the weather, particularly the cloud base, before his flight and told the controller on duty that he intended to fly some circuits to assess the conditions and, if he decided it was suitable, he would then depart for Le Touquet.

The report goes on to state that Mr Schornstein did not have the qualifications required to operate under instrument flight rules (IFR) - a set of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations - and, due to hazy conditions, it would have been very difficult for Mr Schornstein to maintain control of the aircraft manually using IFR techniques.

Mr Schornstein was only qualified to fly under visual flight rules - where a pilot operates aircraft in weather conditions that are clear enough to allow them to see where the aircraft is going.

The air traffic controller (ATC) who witnessed the circuits flown by Mr Schornstein described them as normal and consistent and said the pilot’s radio transmissions were crisp, clear and correct.

After he had completed seven circuits, Mr Schornstein informed the ATC of his intention to fly to Le Touquet and the aircraft then departed the circuit at 9.48.

At 10.20am the pilot made contact stating that he was crossing the coast east of Seaford and he gave an estimated time of arrival for Le Touquet of 10.44am, however, no further transmissions were received.

Two reports from aircraft flying on a similar route stated that there was an area of low cloud over the English Channel, obscuring the surface, and there was 'a significant amount of haze'.

The wreckage of the plane was found off the Kent coast by French search and rescue teams.

 
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