UPDATED 19.10: Winwick man's death in Nepal air crash was 'accidental' - inquest verdict

Tim Oakes

The scene of the crash

Nicholas Rheinberg

First published in News
Last updated

A WINWICK man killed in a Nepal plane crash died from multiple injuries - but the inquest into his death will ‘not bring an end to injustice’ according to his wife.

Coroner Nicholas Rheinburg recorded a verdict of accidental death and found Tim Oakes, aged 57, and six others died from multiple injuries.

They were among 19 passengers and crew killed in the crash in 2012.

Mr Rheinberg delivered his verdict following a day of evidence at Warrington Coroners Court today, Tuesday.

Speaking after the hearing, Tim’s wife Angela Gaunt said: “Today's inquest brings to an end the formal process of providing a verdict on the death of my husband, Tim.  

“However it will not bring an end to the injustice and down-right carelessness of those responsible for this tragic event. It will also not take away the pain and sadness that still remains deep in our hearts. 

“We have spent a long and emotional 18 months working with others to understand why the plane crashed and how such sloppy procedures are tolerated and even encouraged. 

"For our own health and welfare, today must also be the day when we start to focus on ourselves and our own future.  

“As a family, we are grateful to the European Commission for blacklisting the Nepali Airline until such a time that they have put the 15 plus safety recommendations into place. 

“We are also grateful to the AAIB for managing to get the flight investigation report published and to our Family Liaison Offer whose support has been invaluable.

“Finally, our thoughts today also go out to the families of the passengers on the missing Malaysia plane, how dreadful it must be for them all."

In delivering his verdict, Mr Rheinberg said he would write to ABTA, an aviation company dealing with cargo and also to Explore Worldwide Ltd - the company running the trip.

Mr Rheinburg said: "I want to write two reports, one to ABTA informing them of the EU blacklists drawing their attention to some travel companies that are still using local flight operators.

"It seems to me to be quite wrong in the light of the EU blacklists and the investigation into the crash of the SITA dornier."

He added: "I intent to write to Explore Worldwide Ltd that their brochure did not warn travellers about the potential dangers of overloading baggage."

School teacher Mr Oakes was among seven British men who were killed when the plane they were travelling in crashed just one minute and 20 seconds after taking off.

The flight had just left Tribhuvan Airport, Kathmandu, en route for Lukla when it got into difficulties on Friday, September 28, 2012.

The British passengers were on an Explore Worldwide Ltd organised trip to Everest base camp.

Warrington Coroners Court heard that the aircraft, which has been built in 1987, lost power in one of the engines causing it to drift to the left.

The Dornier 228-202k aircraft stalled while in the air and crashed to the ground at high speed - just 420m south-east of the runway.

The 16 passengers and three crew members died instantly.

A forensic pathologist found all victims died from "blunt force injuries all over the body". They were identified by dental records.

Geraint Herbert, a senior inspector of air accidents from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, said: "I think they would have known something was wrong. There would have been some sort of realisation I'm sure. Anyone who had flown before would realise it was at an unusual position."

When asked by Nicholas Rheinberg, senior coroner for Cheshire, whether pilot error could be a factor in the crash Mr Herbert replied "it's a possibility but not fair to draw too much from it".

Stuart Hawkins, a senior air crash investigator from the AAIB, said a bird collided with the aircraft while it was on the runway, causing a "flash and a bang".

He said the bird could not explain the continued loss of power experienced by the aircraft.

The court heard the engine speed reduced to 95 per cent and then 91 per cent at flight level before stalling.

Mr Herbert added: "Perhaps they thought it was the bird strike (causing the loss of power). Perhaps the confusion was setting in. Perhaps it was a case of "what should I do" rather than just getting on with things."

The fuel flow could have caused the loss of power as the setting was too low but it could not be proved as the cause, the court heard. The use of "dirty fuel" and the weight of the aircraft may also have been factors.

The court heard the 42-year-old pilot was experienced having flown 8,308 hours for SITA Air, the carrier.

Margaret McEwan, head of governance at Explore Worldwide Ltd in Farnborough, said the firm no longer uses any Nepalese flights - the step was introduced after the European Union formed a blacklist of flights in the country over safety concerns.

Ms McEwan said SITA AIR was chosen by the company due to previously being "blemish free" - the travel firm switched to that firm after the previous airline was involved in a collision.

She said it was the customers' responsibility to research into the trips but said staff could help them to find information through reliable sources.

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