Families Continue Search For Answers Following Peru Crash Inquest Verdict

Coroner Rules Misadventure In Relation To Fatal Incident

27.09.2011

AN AVIATION law expert acting for the devastated families of two British tourists killed when the light aircraft they were travelling in crashed in Peru says they will continue their fight for reassurances that safety standards will be improved after an inquest today recorded a verdict of misadventure over the tragic deaths.

Gayle Callow, 34, from Bracknell, and Andrew Brown, 30, from High Wycombe, died when the Air Nazca-operated Cessna C185 aircraft they were passengers in came down in a field while en route to the Nazca Lines World Heritage Site last October. Two other passengers and two crew members also died in the incident.

At the inquest in High Wycombe today, Coroner Richard Hulett handed down the misadventure verdict in the relation to crash, stating that he did not want to rule it as an accident due to the crash being ‘more than just a coincidence’. He is also considering whether 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.

And afterwards, Jim Morris, a former RAF pilot and Partner in Irwin Mitchell’s Aviation Law team acting as counsel to the Britons’ relatives at the hearing, said the families remained determined to establish exactly what caused the tragedy and to ensure the Peruvian government took action to keep future tourists safe.

He outlined: “The ruling is unsurprising considering the facts of the case, but we hope the coroner pushes forward with his plans to write to authorities and the manufacturers regarding this incident, as we have long-held concerns over the information that was put together by all of those involved following the incident.

“Our clients have endured an immensely difficult year and we will continue to fight on their behalf to ensure they gain the answers they need over this terrible incident.”

Morris also said he would use the findings of the inquest to press authorities in Peru to assess once again the circumstances of the crash and raised concerns over the accident report released just two months after the incident.

He explained: “While the report highlighted a range of issues – including that the captain had alcohol in his blood, the aircraft was in excess of its maximum take-off weight and no checklist was used for normal and emergency procedures – it was completed very quickly.

“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.”

“There is simply not enough analysis and, on behalf of the families of Mr Brown and Ms Callow, we would urge authorities in Peru to provide evidence that they’ve assessed all options in order to ensure lessons can be learnt from this and – ultimately – improvements made in flight safety.”

Following the inquest, Peter Brown, the father of Andrew, said: “It’s been a very difficult past 12 months for the family. While this inquest has provided some answers over the death of our son, we hope that it will in turn highlight to other people considering a visit to the World Heritage site the potential risks of flights in that region.

“We would also hope that authorities in Peru, as well as the manufacturers of the plane, can provide reassurances that they have taken steps to ensure lessons have been learnt from the crash last year, with a view to ultimately reducing the chances of such a devastating incident from ever happening again.”