By Matt Bates Wednesday 10 October 2012 Updated: 11/10 08:08
AN ERROR by air traffic controllers could have led to a mid-air crash which killed five people, an inquest has been told.
The inquest into the deaths of five pilots killed in the accident opened at Leamington Justice Centre on Monday (October 8).
The accident happened on the morning of Sunday August 17 2008, at a height of around 1,000ft over Coombe Abbey near Coventry.
Seventy year-old Leamington resident Brian Normington, who was at the controls of the kit-built Rand KR-2, was killed in the crash, along with four people in a Cessna 402C - pilots Sophie Hastings, 28, from Derbyshire and Sybille Gautrey, 33, from Northamptonshire, and passengers John Antrobus, 28, from Fillongley, and 34-year-old Warwick resident James Beagley.
During the hearing, a jury heard how lone pilot Mr Normington's kit-built one-seater Rand KR-2 was 'notoriously difficult' to see because of its small size.
The inquest, expected to last over a week and hear from 15 witnesses, opened with family statements and evidence from Geraint Herbert, senior inspector of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
He said probable reasons for the crash included the Cessna not seeing the other plane or having enough time to avoid a collision.
His report pointed out Mr Normington's plane could have been in a blindspot from the cockpit of the Cessna 402, which had been involved in routine training for aerial survey firm Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL).
He also outlined other possible contributing factors to the deaths, including 'ambiguous' information handed to the Cessna pilots by air traffic control.
Wrong details had also been inputed by air traffic control when the crew had informed them of their training intentions the previous night, leading to a risk assessment which did include other factors such as the plane would have been travelling faster than usual.
The Cessna was taking part in an exercise to show pilots how to land in bad weather. It involved approaching the runway at high speed before pulling up at 50ft and flying away.
When air traffic control realised the planes were on a collision course, Mr Normington was told to alter his course.
But the planes crashed just seconds after the Cessna had been told about Mr Normington's change of course.
Fourteen other people will give evidence in the trial, including eye-witnesses, medical officers, Civil Aviation Officers, flight experts and a boss of RVL.
The hearing opened with statements from the families of the five killed. All were described as talented pilots with years of experience and training.
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