UK investigators believe a single-engined Cessna 210M was deliberately and fatally flown into a cliff face on the Isle of Man, by a pilot who had been suffering anxiety and sleep difficulties for several weeks beforehand.
The aircraft (G-TOTN) departed Ronaldsway airport on the island on 17 July, flying a route to the southwestern side of the island before travelling up and down the coast several times at relatively low height.
Some 25min after take-off the pilot turned onto a southwest heading, flying over the sea parallel to the western coast at a distance of around 1nm, before turning east towards the 115m (380ft) cliff at Bradda Head, on the summit of which is a 19th century viewing tower.
Radar and CCTV footage showed the aircraft flying wings-level, with a constant rate of descent, before it struck a sheer section of the cliff, about halfway up, and fell to a ledge. Its pilot did not survive.
According to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, the pilot made several phone calls during the flight indicating that he “did not intend to return”.
The inquiry adds that examination of the wreckage found no evidence of any flight-control or engine problem which would have prevented the pilot from taking evasive action to avoid the cliff.
“It is likely that the accident was a deliberate act,” it states.
Although the pilot had been prescribed drugs intended to alleviate his symptoms, he had not declared his medical difficulties or prescription to his aeromedical examiner.
As the examiner was not the pilot’s doctor there was no automatic access to medical records.
Pilots are required to disclose circumstances which might affect fitness to fly, says the inquiry: “Had the [examiner] been informed of the diagnosis and prescriptions given to the pilot, the medical certificate would have been suspended.”