THE father of a High Wycombe resident who died in a plane crash in Peru warned other tourists to be as safe as possible after a “tragedy of errors” were catalogued at an inquest yesterday.
Andrew Brown, 30, died in the light aircraft crash on October 2 last year with his friend and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust colleague, Gayle Callow, 34, from Bracknell.
Two other Britons, Warren Denham and Alistair Rowe, both 34, and the two pilots also lost their lives as the holidaymakers were flying to see the tourist attraction, The Nazca Lines.
The inquest was held at Wycombe Law Courts yesterday and a verdict of misadventure was recorded as coroner Richard Hulett said the crash was not just pure coincidence.
Dad Peter Brown, from Tylers Green, said after the inquest: “As a tourist you go along and you assume everything is going to be fine.
“It is a warning for them to make sure that they are as safe as they can possibly be.
“This was just a series of very tragic events- all one after the other. It was not a comedy of errors but a tragedy of errors.”
The Peruvian authorities carried out an investigation which was examined by Lisa Fitzsimons, from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
She said investigations found the fuel selector valve was in the off position when it took off which meant that there was only a limited supply of fuel available to the engine from the reserve tank.
She said this meant there was only enough fuel for the engine to run for about five minutes, including taxiing and waiting time, so the plane was only in the air for a few minutes before it crashed.
Both pilots were experienced but the take off was rushed as the flight request was made late and they only had 20 minutes to prepare the plane before the cut off time for take offs.
Ms Fitzsimons said the report said the pilots did not carry out the standard checks before taking off or follow emergency procedure when the flight came into difficulty.
Witnesses said they saw the plane nose dive to the ground before the engine roared to life and they tried to ascend, before it crashed. The report suggest the pilots thought they had solved the problem and tried to carry on.
Witnesses also said they saw the pilot and co-pilot arguing before the flight and toxicology reports showed the pilot had 51mg per 100ml of alcohol in his blood which is less than the drink drive limit in the UK but more than the flying limit.
Jim Morris, a former RAF pilot and Partner in Irwin Mitchell’s Aviation Law team acting as counsel to the Andrew Brown and Gayle Callow's families, questioned the report.
He said afterwards: “An accident report should feature more detailed analysis of the engine in order to provide full information on any potential instances of malfunction. However, even though the engine stopped less than five minutes into the journey, only one page of text in the 64-page document was devoted to analysis of the engine.
“In addition, it suggested the plane’s fuel selector valve was in the off position before take-off, but does not consider that it may have been pushed to that position upon impact with the ground.”
He said the families remained determined to find out what exactly caused the crash.
He asked Mr Hulett to write a Rule 43 report to authorities in Peru, as well as the manufacturers of the plane and its engine, to gain further information on what could have been behind the tragic incident and to improve flight safety in the future, which he is considering.
Mr Hulett recorded a verdict of misadventure. He said: “The upshot is, whether the cause is fuel starvation or some unknown,and it is unknown, engine failure this plane crashed within a minute or two of taking off with these travellers and adventurers, which is what they were.”