Aircraft that crashed killing three Britons ‘may have hit turbulence’

Light aircraft that crashed killing three Britons ‘may have hit turbulence caused by a passing Airbus A350 passenger jet that was coming in to land’ in Dubai

  • Small Diamond DA62 propeller plane crashed at Dubai Airport on May 16
  • Preliminary report says the smaller plane may have hit ‘wake turbulence’
  • It states a Thai Airways Airbus A350 was coming into land ahead of the plane
  • Wake turbulence is caused by jet engines and the wings of passing aircraft 

A light aircraft that crashed killing three Britons may have hit turbulence caused by a passing Airbus A350 coming into land in Dubai, a preliminary report states.  

William Blackburn, a pilot, David Phillips, an ex-RAF wing commander, as well as another Briton and a South African died on May 16 when their Diamond DA62 came down near Dubai Airport.

The twin engine propeller plane may have encountered ‘wake turbulence’ generated by a Thai Airways A350, according to a statement by the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA).

The civil aviation agency cite video footage showing the smaller plane at 1,100 ft following the A350 – a 300-seater commercial jet – which was coming into the runway.

The crashed aircraft, a Diamond DA62, pictured, may have encountered ‘wake turbulence’ and was seen following a Thai Airways Airbus A350 coming into land on May 16 at Dubai Airport

Stock image of a Thai Airways Airbus A350 – the smaller plane was seen flying behind the commercial jet as it came into land at around 1,100 ft over the ground

Wake turbulence manifests itself as wingtip vortices and jetwash – the latter refers to gasses propelled from jet engines creating volatile turbulence; the former to the trails of varying pressure left by a plane’s wings, less chaotic but longer lasting.

BEA’s summary of their preliminary report simply states: ‘A Diamond DA-62 aircraft, registration mark G-MDME, was involved in a fatal accident while on approach to runway 30L of Dubai International Airport for a ground navigation equipment inspection flight.

‘Video footage showed the aircraft encountered possible wake turbulence at about 1,100 ft, following an Airbus A350, which landed on the parallel runway 30R.’ 

Earlier this month Mr Blackman, from the Isle of Man, was described as a ‘beautiful soul’ by his family.

He had told them just a few days before the crash: ‘If I die in flight then at least I’ll die doing what I love.’

In a statement given to local station Manx Radio, the family said: ‘We were blessed with the most beautiful soul and he touched so many hearts.

‘We have all our amazing memories now to cherish, and so much support to get us through. The Island’s community is just amazing. We have been lucky to have him in our lives.’

The other named British victim, Mr Phillips, from Newcastle, served as an air traffic control examiner in the Air Force and had more than 3,000 hours of flying experience before he died.  

William Blackburn, a pilot from the Isle of Man, was described by his family as a ‘beautiful soul’ 

Mr Blackburn (centre, with his family) was described as ‘a beautiful soul who touched many hearts’, and who said that dying in a plane would mean ‘dying doing what I love’

Tributes to Mr Phillips – who was affectionately known as ‘Spot’ – were paid online, including by the 83 St Georges Squadron Air Training Corps.

A spokesman for the corps wrote: ‘It’s with heavy heart that we have to inform you of the death of our Commanding Officer Flt Lt David Phillips. 

‘Our heartfelt condolences are with his family at this tragic time.’

A third Briton and the South African who were killed have not been named. 

The crew, who were employed by Flight Calibration Services, based in Kent, were working to improve the runway at Dubai’s airport when tragedy struck. 

Initial indications suggest the crash was the result of a technical malfunction, though an investigation is sill underway. 

The two-year-old aircraft had been operating out of the Middle East since October.    

Dubai’s international airport is one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs. 

David Phillips, a former RAF wing commander, was identified as one of the three Britons killed in the UAE earlier this month when their plane crashed near Dubai Airport

David Phillips was an air traffic control examiner, served as a Commanding Officer in the Air Training Corps and had more than 3,000 hours of flying experience

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘We are working closely with the Emirati authorities following reports of a small aircraft crash in Dubai.’ 

US engineering and aerospace company Honeywell said it had hired Flight Calibration Services and the DA62 plane for work in Dubai.

In a statement, Honeywell said: ‘We are deeply saddened by today’s plane crash in Dubai, and our heartfelt condolences are with the victims’ families.’

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