STORMY WEATHER, combined with the apparent failure of at least one artificial horizon, may prove to have been contributory factors to the Knight Air Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante crash on 24 May (Flight International, 31 May-6 June) says the investigators' preliminary report.

All 12 people on board died when the aircraft spiraled out of control and hit the ground some 6min after take-off from Leeds/ Bradford Airport in the UK.

The aircraft, which had neither cockpit-voice recorder nor flight-data recorder fitted, took off in 1,100m (3,600ft) visibility with a cloud-base of 400ft and thunderstorm warnings in force for the area, according to the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch preliminary report. The aircraft's weather radar was unserviceable.

On take-off, the crew was instructed to maintain runway heading, but the aircraft "...began to turn gently left very shortly after becoming airborne". The co-pilot reported an artificial-horizon problem 2min after take-off and requested radar recovery to the airport. After this says the report, the aircraft failed to respond correctly to radar headings passed by the controller.

Finally, after the pilot acknowledged an instruction to turn right, the aircraft began to turn left "...and shortly entered a tightening descending spiral to the left". The report says that initial study of the wreckage indicates "some break-up of the aircraft" before impact.

Source: Flight International