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British pilot dies to save 9 in Caribbean

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British pilot dies to save 9 in Caribbean

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Oct 25, 2009

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 889041.ece

British pilot dies to save 9 in Caribbean
October 25, 2009

A British pilot drowned after saving the lives of nine passengers by ditching his plane into the sea when one of his engines failed.

Robert Mansell, 32, was hailed as a hero after carrying out a forced landing of a light aircraft in the Caribbean between the islands of Curaçao and Bonaire. Last night it emerged that his final words to air traffic controllers were: “I’ve lost control of one of my engines ... so long.”

At 9.30am on Wednesday, Mansell, from Knowle, in the West Midlands, had embarked on his fourth island hop of the day, carrying seven locals and two Dutch tourists. He was flying at 3,500ft when the right engine of his Britten-Norman Islander gave out.

He made a mayday call but was knocked unconscious by the impact of the landing. He became trapped between his seat and the cockpit instrument panel. Several passengers were knocked unconscious in the incident but came to with minor head injuries and escaped with everyone else on board. Two passengers on the Divi Divi Air flight attempted to pull Mansell out of the aircraft but fled through the door when it began to sink. The passengers were all plucked from the sea by rescue services.

One former colleague has posted details of the crash on a tribute website. He said: “He slammed his head on the cockpit glass and remained unconscious. It was difficult to get the safety belts out. [They had] 10 to 15 seconds to get out of the plane, otherwise more people could have died.”

The Foreign Office has confirmed that Mansell died on Wednesday. His body has yet to be recovered: rescuers have located the aircraft beneath the Caribbean sea but lack the equipment to retrieve it.

The twin-engined Islander is described by its British maker as the best-selling commercial aircraft produced in western Europe and is known for its good safety record.

Mansell’s father, Roger, said his son had repeatedly told him that the Caribbean airline’s planes were overloaded as passengers and luggage were not weighed properly.

“I am furious,” he said. “If you have nine people on board and a plane is overloaded and a problem develops, it becomes much harder to fix.

“He was a wonderful son and a hero. Quite how he managed to bring the plane down in the water like that without it breaking apart is beyond me. It is a miracle that the passengers survived.”

Mansell had been working at Divi Divi for three months. He studied aeronautical engineering at Bristol University, before travelling to Australia to train for his pilot’s licence, and had also flown for two companies in the Solomon Islands, about 800 miles west of Papua New Guinea.

Germaine Richie, the airline’s owner, said: “We reject any allegations that we are overloading planes and putting safety at risk.”

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Re: British pilot dies to save 9 in Caribbean

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Oct 25, 2009


CURACAO: Airline says pilot sacrificed his life to save passengers
Posted by admin on 10/25/09

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao, CMC – The pilot who lost his life in a crash in the Caribbean Sea between Curacao and Bonaire in which all his passengers survived has been hailed as a hero by the airline that employed him.

Divi Divi Air said on Saturday that Robert Mansell had to ditch the light aircraft when its right engine failed during a flight on Thursday. All nine passengers on the Britten-Norman Islander plane managed to escape after the controlled emergency landing and were left floating in the sea until they were picked up by a cargo ship crew.

However Mansell, 32, is believed to have sunk with the aircraft still strapped in his seat after failed attempts to release him. His body has not been found, Divi Divi said. The airline said Mansells’ skill was to thank for the successful rescue of all the locals and Dutch tourists who were on board.

“They have no words to express their gratitude for his professionalism right up to the last moments of the flight,” said Divi Divi Air owner Germaine Richie. “They say he even looked back to confirm they had their life vests on and he gave them the thumbs up,” he added.

Divi Divi Air spokesman Simon Janzen said: “He’s a hero. All the passengers survived, and he is the only one missing. If he wasn’t a good pilot, he couldn’t have ditched it so everyone could be saved. Other pilots wouldn’t have known what to do, but he landed the aircraft so that everyone could get out safely.”

Richie said the crash was under investigation and that Mansell made a distress call reporting the right engine of his aircraft had failed shortly before he brought the plane down.

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Re: British pilot dies to save 9 in Caribbean

Unread post by bimjim » Sat Sep 27, 2014

http://aviation-safety.net/database/rec ... 20091022-0

Accident description
Last updated: 27 September 2014
Status: Final
Date: Thursday 22 October 2009
Time: 10:17
Type: Silhouette image of generic BN2P model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Britten-Norman BN-2A-26 Islander
Operator: Divi Divi Air
Registration: PJ-SUN
C/n / msn: 377
First flight: 1973
Total airframe hrs: 16670
Engines: 2 Lycoming O-540-E4C5
Crew: Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Passengers: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 9
Total: Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 10
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location: 4,7 km (2.9 mls) WNW off Bonaire-Flamingo International Airport (BON) ( Netherlands Antilles) show on map
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Curaçao-Hato International Airport (CUR/TNCC), Netherlands Antilles
Destination airport: Bonaire-Flamingo International Airport (BON/TNCB), Netherlands Antilles
Flightnumber: 014


The pilot brought the aircraft into level flight at FL035 and reduced the power from climb power to cruise power. Engine power of the right hand engine ceased the moment that the pilot was adjusting (one of) the levers on the throttle quadrant. Passengers stated that the pilot increased the left engine power, feathered the right propeller and trimmed away the forces to the rudder pedals due to the failure of the right engine. They also reported that the pilot attempted to restart the right engine two or three times but to no avail. Around 09:52 the pilot reported to the Hato Tower controller: "Divi 014 requesting to switch to Flamingo, priority landing with Flamingo, have lost one of the engines." The controller acknowledged this message. The pilot continued the flight to Bonaire flying with the left engine running and contacted Flamingo Tower air traffic control at 09:57 and reported: "014, Islander inbound from Curaçao, showing, I got one engine out, so we are landing with one engine, no emergency at this stage, I’m maintaining altitude at, 3000 feet, we request priority to landing runway 10, currently 24 miles out, estimating at, 18." The Flamingo Tower controller authorised the approach to runway 10. The air traffic controller requested the pilot to report when he left 3000 feet altitude, which he immediately did.

The radar data shows that the PJ-SUN descended approximately 140 feet per minute on average from the moment the engine failed up to the emergency landing.

The pilot did not inform the passengers regarding the failure of the right engine or his intentions. A few passengers were concerned and started to put on the life jackets having retrieved them from under their seats. The passenger next to the pilot could not find his life jacket, while others had some trouble opening the plastic bags of the life jackets. They also agreed on a course of action for leaving the aircraft in case of an emergency landing in the water.

At 10:08 the pilot informed the Flamingo Tower that he was approaching and was ten nautical miles away, flying at 1000 feet and expected to land in ten minutes. At 10:12 the pilot reported the distance to be eight nautical miles and that he was having trouble with the altitude which was 600 feet at that moment. The traffic controller authorised the landing. At 10:14 the pilot reported to be six nautical miles away and flying at an altitude of 300 feet. During the last radio contact at 10:15 the pilot indicated to be at five nautical miles distance flying at 200 feet and that he was still losing altitude. The pilot was going to perform an emergency landing near Klein Bonaire. The aircraft subsequently turned a little to the left towards Klein Bonaire. According to a few passengers, the pilot turned around towards them and indicated with hand signals that the aircraft was about to land and he gave a thumbs-up signal to ask whether everyone was ready for the approaching emergency landing.
The aircraft hit the water at 10.17 at a distance of approximately 0.7 nautical miles from Klein Bonaire and 3.5 nautical miles west of Bonaire. The left front door broke off from the cabin and other parts of the aircraft on impact.

The cabin soon filled with water because the left front door had broken off and the windscreen had shattered. All nine passengers were able to leave the aircraft without assistance using the left front door opening and the emergency exits. A few passengers sat for a short time on the wings before the aircraft sank. The passengers formed a circle in the water. The passengers who were not wearing life jackets kept afloat by holding onto the other passengers. One passenger reported that the pilot hit his head on the vertical door/window frame in the cockpit or the instrument panel at impact causing him to lose consciousness and may even have been wounded. The attempts of one or two passengers to free the pilot from his seat were unsuccessful. A few minutes after the accident, the aircraft sank with the pilot still on-board. Approximately five minutes after the emergency landing, two boats with recreational divers who were nearby arrived on the scene and rescued the survivors.

Causal factors

1. After one of the two engines failed, the flight continued to Bonaire. By not returning to the nearby situated departure airport, the safest flight operation was not chosen.
- Continuing to fly after engine failure was contrary to the general principle for twin-engine aircraft as set down in the CARNA, that is, to land at the nearest suitable airport.

2. The aircraft could not maintain horizontal flight when it continued with the flight and an emergency landing at sea became unavoidable.
- The aircraft departed with an overload of 9% when compared to the maximum structural take-off weight of 6600 lb. The pilot who was himself responsible (self-dispatch and release) for the loading of the aircraft was aware of the overloading or could have been aware of this. A non-acceptable risk was taken by continuing the flight under these conditions where the aircraft could not maintain altitude due to the overloading.

3. The pilot did not act as could be expected when executing the flight and preparing for the emergency landing.
- The landing was executed with flaps up and, therefore, the aircraft had a higher landing speed.
- The pilot ensured insufficiently that the passengers had understood the safety instructions after boarding.
- The pilot undertook insufficient attempts to inform passengers about the approaching emergency landing at sea after the engine failure and, therefore, they could not prepare themselves sufficiently.

Contributing factors

Divi Divi Air

4. Divi Divi Air management paid insufficient supervision to the safety of amongst others the flight operation with the Britten-Norman Islanders. This resulted in insufficient attention to the risks of overloading.


- The maximum structural take-off weight of 6600 lb was used as limit during the flight operation. Although this was accepted by the oversight authority, formal consent was not
granted for this.
- A standard average passenger weight of 160 lb was used on the load and balance sheet while the actual average passenger weight was significantly higher. This meant that passenger weight was often lower on paper than was the case in reality.
- A take-off weight of exactly 6600 lb completed on the load and balance sheet occurred in 32% of the investigated flights. This is a strong indication that the luggage and fuel weights completed were incorrect in these cases and that, in reality, the maximum structural take-off weight of 6600 lb was exceeded.
- Exceedances of the maximum structural landing weight of 6300 lb occurred in 61% of the investigated flights.
- The exceedance of the maximum allowed take-off weight took place on all three of the Britten-Norman Islander aircraft in use and with different pilots.
- Insufficient attention was paid to aircraft weight limitations during training.
- Lack of internal supervision with regard to the load and balance programme.
- Combining management tasks at Divi Divi Air, which may have meant that insufficient details were defined regarding the related responsibilities.

5. The safety equipment and instructions on-board the Britten-Norman Islander aircraft currently being used were not in order.


- Due to the high noise level in the cabin during the flight it is difficult to communicate with the passengers during an emergency situation.
- The safety instruction cards did not include an illustration of the pouches under the seats nor instructions on how to open these pouches. The life jacket was shown with two and not a single waist belt and the life jackets had a different back than the actual life jackets on-board.

Directorate of Civil Aviation Netherlands Antilles (currently the Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority)

6. The Directorate of Civil Aviation’s oversight on the operational management of Divi Divi Air was insufficient in relation to the air operator certificate involving the Britten-Norman Islander aircraft in use.


- The operational restrictions that formed the basis for using 6600 lb were missing in the air operator certificate, in the certificate of airworthiness of the PJ-SUN and in the approved General Operating Manual of Divi Divi Air. The restrictions entail that flying is only allowed during daylight, under visual meteorological conditions, and when a route is flown from where a safe emergency landing can be executed in case of engine failure.
- The required (demonstrable) relation with the actual average passenger weight was missing in relation to the used standard passenger weight for drawing up the load and balance sheet.
- The failure of Divi Divi Air’s internal supervision system for the load and balance programme.
- Not noticing deviations between the (approved) safety instruction cards and the life jackets on-board during annual inspections.
- The standard average passenger weight of 176 lb set after the accident offers insufficient security that the exceedance of the maximum allowed take-off weight of flights with Antillean airline companies that fly with the Britten-Norman Islander will not occur.

Other factors

Recording system of radio communication with Hato Tower

7. The recording system used for the radio communication with Hato Tower cannot be used to record the actual time. This means that the timeline related to the radio communication with Hato Tower cannot be exactly determined.

The alerting and the emergency services on Bonaire

8. There was limited coordination between the different emergency services and, therefore, they did not operate optimally.


- The incident site command (CoPI) that should have taken charge of the emergency services in accordance with the Bonaire island territory crisis plan was not formed.
- Insufficient multidisciplinary drills have been organised and assessed for executive officials who have a task to perform in accordance with the Bonaire island territory crisis plan and the airport aircraft accident crisis response plan in controlling disasters and serious accidents. They were, therefore, insufficiently prepared for their task.

9. The fire service and police boats could not be deployed for a longer period of time.

Classification: Ditching

» Toestel Divi Divi in zee gestort (Amigoe, 22-10-2009)

Official accident investigation report

investigating agency: Onderzoeksraad Voor Veiligheid (OVV) / Dutch Safety Board - Netherlands
report status: Final
report number: 2009090)
report released: 17-MAY-2011
duration of investigation: 572 days (1 year 6.9 months)
download report: Emergency landing at sea with Britten-Norman Islander near Bonaire on 22 October 2009 (Dutch Safety Board 2009090))

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