AAIB Special Bulletin Loss of Piper Cherokee Arrow II approximately 20 nm west of Le Touquet

G-EGVA was one of seven aircraft taking part in a club ‘fly-out’ from Wellesbourne Mountford Aerodrome to Le Touquet in France.

A line of highly convective cloud was forecast on the intended route in the English Channel. As they approached the middle of the Channel, one of the pilots of G-EGVA, which was operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), reported to London Information that they were in cloud. Neither of the pilots onboard was qualified to fly in cloud. Shortly after this transmission the aircraft disappeared from radar.

An extensive search of the area was coordinated by the UK and French Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centres but neither the aircraft nor its occupants were found. The available evidence, at the time of issue of this report, suggests that control of the aircraft was lost when it entered cloud.

This Special Bulletin is published to remind pilots of the danger of entering cloud when not qualified to fly in IMC, and highlights the guidance available in the CAA Skyway Code and Safety Sense leaflets.

Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents said: “This was a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the loved ones of the missing pilots at this time.

“The accident highlights how hazardous it is to fly into cloud when not suitably qualified or when not in current practice in instrument flying. Sadly, the AAIB has investigated numerous accidents when control of an aircraft was lost in these circumstances. Pilots are reminded of the importance of pre-flight weather decision making and always having contingency plans just in case the weather proves to be worse than expected.”

Read the report.

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