View Full Version : Inquest hears flight instructor at centre of fatal plane crash 'fell asleep' in train

12th Feb 2013, 03:23
Inquest hears flight instructor at centre of fatal plane crash 'fell asleep' in training

Peter Bodkin
The Daily Telegraph
February 12, 2013 12:45PM
The scene of the plane accident an Casula, where flying instructor Joanne Ethell was killed. Picture: Renee Nowytarger Source: The Daily Telegraph

AN elderly flight instructor had been reported for falling asleep during a training exercise and doing aerobatics in a plane not rated for the manoeuvres nearly a decade before he was involved in a fatal crash over south-west Sydney, a coroner heard this morning.

Pilot instructor Joanne Ethell, 20, and her student Chandrika Gaur, 18, were killed when their Cessna 152 light aircraft hit the ground after an in-air collision near Bankstown Airport with another training flight on December 18, 2008.

The second plane involved, a Liberty XL2, was being piloted by student Madan Sharma, 25, under the supervision of 89-year-old WWII Spitfire ace Ken Andrews.

Roger Weeks, from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, this morning told an inquest into the Cessna passengers' deaths that Mr Andrews claimed only a few hours after the crash that the two planes had been involved in a near head-on collision.

"(Mr Andrews) indicated that he had a split second when he looked up and that's what he recalled seeing," he said.

Mr Weeks agreed it was "exceedingly improbable" there had actually been any head-on collision as the Liberty had been able to land safely, while the other aircraft spun out of control and slammed into the back of a house.

"I formed the view that Mr Andrews' recollection of the Cessna was likely to be as a result of shock and not actually having sufficient time," he said.

"I felt that it was unlikely that an accurate assessment of direction or manoeuvring was likely to have been made."

The inquest was told a confidential report was made about Mr Andrews in 1999 which included allegations he had fallen asleep for 25 minutes during a night training flight and had performed aerobatic stunts in a Cessna 150 which was not certified to carry out the moves.

Counsel assisting the coroner Gerard Craddock SC suggested the claims should have raised "very serious concerns" about Mr Andrews keeping his pilot's license.

"(Those allegations) go to capacity ... in that it is somewhat important for a pilot to be awake," he said.

Mr Weeks said he was not aware of the report until this morning and Mr Andrews had a clean flight record at the time of the fatal crash, after which he was allowed to continue working as an instructor.

"The receipt of a confidential report ... does not necessarily mean it was true," he said.

The inquest continues today.

Inquest hears flight instructor at centre of fatal plane crash 'fell asleep' in training | thetelegraph.com.au (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/inquest-hears-flight-instructor-at-centre-of-fatal-plane-crash-fell-asleep-in-training/story-e6freuy9-1226576165015)