Plane crashed into vegetation at Fenland airfield because runway was mowed too narrow

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 December 2012

The Samba XLA plane which was damaged during the landing. Picture: NOEL KEARNEY

The Samba XLA plane which was damaged during the landing. Picture: NOEL KEARNEY

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A PLANE crashed into overgrown vegetation at a Fenland airfield because the landing strip had not been mowed correctly, an investigation has revealed.

The aircraft suffered damage to the landing gear, wings and tailplane after it ploughed into the plants and spun off the runway at Chatteris Airfield.

The 55-year-old pilot and his passenger, who had flown from Duxford, were unharmed in the crash which happened on August 18 this year.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch report found that Runway 23 at the airfield, off Block Fen Drove, was listed in a commercial flight guide as being 11m wide.

The report said: “Just before touchdown, the aircraft’s right wing contacted vegetation to the right of the runway, causing it to yaw through 180 degrees and depart the runway about 200m from the threshold.

“In his report, the pilot stated that the wing had struck vegetation over 1m high, and that the runway strip was in fact only mowed to a width of about 6m.”

The 10m wing-span of the Samba XLA plane, which was visiting from Ireland, made it impossible to avoid the collision on the overgrown runway.

The pilot, who had more than 1,000 hours of flying experience, had been informed to consult the flight guide by the airfield, which is home to the North London Parachute Centre.

He had made radio contact with a parachute jump aircraft and waited until all parachutists had landed before approaching the runway.


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