France plane crash: Inquest told aircraft 'fell like a stone'

Roger and Andrew Hayes
Image caption Roger and Andrew Hayes had taken off after refuelling at Limoges when the crash happened

An aircraft which crashed in France killing a father and son fell from the sky "like a stone" when its wings failed, an inquest has heard.

Roger Hayes, 75, from Holsworthy, Devon and son Andy, 39, from Birmingham, died when their twin-seat plane crashed at Pierre-Buffiere on 29 June, 2012.

The plane crashed 20 minutes after taking off from nearby Limoges as they flew to the south of France.

The coroner, Elizabeth Earland, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Image copyright FranceTV
Image caption French accident investigators said both wings failed after a "sudden manoeuvre"

Andrew Cope, a senior Air Accident Investigation Board inspector, said an iPad navigation app may have prompted the pilot to make a sharp turn.

Mr Cope told the inquest: "I think the pilot, Andrew, probably realised he was in restricted air space and turned around.

"That's the point where things start to go awry and the flight path is quite dramatic from then on.

"The pilot has now realised he is descending and is manoeuvring the aircraft to get back up.

"The problem is that if that is done very quickly it puts a lot of pressure on the wings."

Mr Cope agreed with the findings of French investigators who said the wings probably broke off when they came under too much pressure as Mr Hayes attempted to right the aircraft.

Image copyright Wikipedia/Creative Commons
Image caption A Jabiru 450 like the plane which crashed as the father and son flew to the south of France

Didier Pauliet, who works at a nearby school, said: "The aircraft started losing bits. A wing fell off violently.

"Other bits, some bigger, started falling off.

"The rest of the plane fell in one piece almost immediately. We could see a lot of smoke."

The inquest heard the single-engine Jabiru 450 had been heading to the southern French town of Rodez when it crashed into woodland.

Officials said the plane stopped off in Cherbourg on the French Channel coast, then at Le Mans, north west France, before refuelling in Limoges about 100 miles from Rodez.

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