Bolton brothers 'died instantly' in Nepal plane crash
TWO brothers died instantly when their plane crashed in Nepal just 80 seconds after take-off, an inquest heard.
Vincent and Darren Kelly from Bolton were with five other British people on the flight — which was carrying a total of 16 passengers and three crew — when it crashed.
An inquest yesterday ruled their deaths were accidental.
The Dornier 228-202k aircraft had just left Tribhuvan Airport, Kathmandu, en route for Lukla when it got into difficulties on Friday, September 28, 2012.
Vincent, aged 50, from Lostock, and his younger brother Darren, aged 44, who had moved away from Bolton to the Isle of Whithorn, were on an Explore Worldwide Ltd organised trip to Everest base camp.
But just one minute and 20 seconds into the flight, the 25-year-old aircraft lost power in one of the engines causing it to drift to the left, Warrington Coroners Court heard.
It has hit a bird just before take-off, but the court was told this did not explain the subsequent loss of power.
The plane stalled mid-air and crashed to the ground at high speed — just 420 metres south-east of the runway. Everyone on board died instantly, the court heard.
A forensic pathologist found all victims died from “blunt force injuries all over the body”. They could only be identified by dental records.
Geraint Herbert, a senior inspector from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), said: “I think the passengers would have known something was wrong. There would have been some sort of realisation I'm sure.
“Anyone who had flown before would realise it was at an unusual position.”
When asked by Nicholas Rheinberg, senior coroner for Cheshire, whether pilot error could have been a factor in the crash, Mr Herbert replied: “It's a possibility but it is not fair to draw too much from that.”
Stuart Hawkins, a senior air crash investigator from the AAIB, said a bird collided with the aircraft while it was on the runway, causing a “flash and a bang”.
But he said the bird could not explain the continued loss of power experienced by the aircraft.
The court heard the engine speed reduced to 95 per cent and then 91 per cent at flight level before stalling.
Mr Herbert added: “Perhaps they thought it was the bird strike causing the loss of power. Perhaps confusion was setting in. Perhaps it was a case of ‘what should I do?’ rather than just getting on with things.”
The fuel flow could have caused the loss of power as the setting was too low but it could not be proved as the cause, the court heard.
The use of “dirty fuel” and the weight of the aircraft may also have been factors.
The court heard the 42-year-old pilot was experienced having flown 8,308 hours for SITA AIR, the carrier.
Margaret McEwan, head of governance at Explore Worldwide Ltd in Farnborough, said the firm no longer used any Nepalese flights — the step was introduced after the European Union formed a blacklist of flights in the country over safety concerns.
Ms McEwan said SITA AIR was chosen by the company due to previously being “blemish-free”.
The travel firm switched to that firm after the previous airline was involved in a collision.
She said it was the customers’ responsibility to research into the trips but said staff could help them to find information through reliable sources.
Jane Kelly, the widow of Vincent Kelly, said her husband and his brother Darren had planned the trip for 14 months before.
Mrs Kelly, aged 50, giving evidence, said: “He hadn't done anything along these lines before. As a family we had been travelling. We all loved travelling, that was Vincent's passion.
“He was up for challenges. He missed out on a trip to Kilimanjaro the previous year so when his brother asked him he was quite up for it.”
The couple had a son and daughter together.
Mrs Kelly asked the inquest whether the families who lost loved ones in the air crash could be updated about improvements to Nepalese flights.
Jannine Kelly, Darren Kelly’s widow, said her husband had been on scuba driving holidays but had never been on trips like this one before.
Mr Rheinberg recorded a verdict of accidental death and found both Vincent and Darren Kelly died from multiple injuries.
He said he would write to ABDA, an aviation company dealing with cargo, and also to Explore Worldwide Ltd.
Mr Rheinberg said: “I want to write two reports. One to ABDA informing then of the EU blacklists and drawing their attention to some travel companies that are still using local flight operators.
“It seems to me to be quite wrong in the light of the EU blacklists and the investigation into the crash of the SITA dornier.
“I also intend to write to Explore Worldwide Ltd because their brochure did not warn travellers about the potential dangers of overloading baggage.”
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