AAIB Special Bulletin: Loss of the Piper Cherokee Arrow II (G-EGVA) about 20 nm West of Le Touquet

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

A line of strongly convective clouds was forecast over the forecast channel track. As they approached the middle of the English Channel, one of the pilots of G-EGVA, who was operating under visual flight rules (VFR), reported to London Information that they were in cloud. None of the pilots on board were qualified to fly in clouds. Shortly after this transmission, the aircraft disappeared from radar.

A thorough search of the area was coordinated by the British and French Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centres, but neither the aircraft nor its occupants were found. Evidence available, at the time of publication of this report, suggests that control of the aircraft was lost when it entered cloud.

This special bulletin is issued to remind pilots of the danger of entering cloud when not qualified to fly in IMC, and highlights guidance available in the CAA Skyway Code and Safety Sense pamphlets.

Crispin Orr, Chief Air Accident Inspector, 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 dangerous it is to fly in clouds without being properly qualified or when not in current instrument flight practice. Unfortunately, the AAIB has investigated many many accidents where control of an aircraft has been lost under these circumstances Pilots are reminded of the importance of making weather decisions before flight and always having contingency plans in case the weather turns out to be worse than foreseen.

Read the report.

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