Cirrus plane crash into Solent off Calshot 'likely fuel starvation'
A LIGHT aircraft which crashed into the Solent off Calshot had suffered a loss of power that was "probably due to fuel starvation", a report has revealed.
As previously reported by the A&T, the Cirrus single-engine plane came down on 31st May last year, with both occupants picked up by Hamble Lifeboat just minutes after escaping the aircraft uninjured.
Hundreds of bathers enjoying the sunny weather saw the accident and subsequent rescue effort, which also involved Calshot RNLI and Lymington Coastguard.
A report published by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said the cause of the fuel starvation could not be determined, but it was possible that when the pilot switched between fuel tanks the tank was not selected for long enough. Furthermore, the fuel pump switch had not been set to boost as it should have been.
"Passing 1,400ft in a descent towards an airfield, the engine started to run roughly and subsequently lost power," stated the report.
Investigators said that after switching fuel tanks, it is possible that [the pilot] did not leave enough time for the engine recovery to stabilise, or that it would have stabilised more quickly with the electric pump set to boost."
But they conceded that given the "relatively low altitude of 1,400ft" when the plane got into difficulty, there was "little time was available to the pilot to action drills and attempt to resolve the engine issue".
"By the time the pilot had informed Lee-on-Solent of his situation and attempted a fuel tank change, the aircraft had descended to 800ft," the report continued.
"The pilot turned the aircraft parallel to the shore and deployed the aircraft’s Ballistic Parachute Recovery System."
Following the crash, a member of the Calshot RNLI team, who was a professional pilot, made the plane safe by disconnecting its batteries, magnetos and fuel supply.
A coastguard spokesperson said at the time: "It certainly was a miraculous escape. The day was saved by the deployment of the emergency parachute.
“This was a coastguard-led operation as it was a maritime incident, but all the emergency services worked very well together to effect a successful recovery and outcome.”