A DISPLAY plane that crashed and burst into flames at Kemble’s Cotswold Airport in 2012 was carrying an “unusual” amount of fuel, according to the findings of an investigation.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has said that the OV-10 Bronco aeroplane, which appeared at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford the weekend before, crashed during a barrel roll manoeuvre on Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
Belgian pilot Tony De Bruyn was stuck in the cockpit of the burning wreckage after the plane skidded more than 1,000ft across the runway.
He survived the crash but spent two months in Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital with spinal injuries and serious burns to a large part of his body.
The AAIB report into the crash said the pilot had been carrying out a display practice at the airport on the border between Gloucestershire and Wiltshire in suitable weather conditions.
However, the plane was said to be carrying a full fuel tank, which the report described as an “unusual configuration for performing a display” and may have had an impact on the performance and feel of the aircraft.
It also said that the entry speed for the barrel roll was “lower than recommended” which would have had an adverse effect on the plane “especially with the unusual fuel load”.
The report concluded by issuing four safety recommendations, two suggesting improvements in communication between those who maintain and those who pilot the aircraft and two relating to the way the Civil Aviation Authority grants authorisation for flying displays.
Mr De Bruyn returned to Cotswold Airport on the first anniversary of the crash to personally thank the crews that had saved his life by pulling him out of the burning wreckage.
He said: “I especially would like to thank all the rescue workers, medical staff and anyone else who was involved in the aftermath of the accident and thank to whom, no doubt, I have survived the ordeal with good success.”
Cotswold Airport’s resident firefighters, who managed to pull Mr De Bruyn out of the burning plane alive, were recognised at last year’s Pride of Britain awards for the outstanding bravery they showed when rescuing the pilot.