Plane crash inquest hears about lack of paperwork

NO OFFICIAL records were kept by an aircraft maintenance company about the tools used on a plane which crashed in Northamptonshire after a screwdriver jammed in its controls.

The pilot of the Yak 52 aircraft, Anthony Hunt, and his brother Ian, were killed when the plane came down in a field near Towcester while performing aerobatics on January 5 last year.

But an inquest heard yesterday that no paperwork had been kept about which tools had been taken on board by trainee aircraft mechanic Robert Speed, who worked for Yak UK.

A report by the Air Accident Investigation Board concluded the plane crashed when a small flat-head screwdriver loose in the cockpit jammed the aircraft's controls.

An inquest at Northampton General Hospital heard evidence from Mr Speed who carried out maintenance work on Anthony Hunt's plane in September 2002. He again worked on the aircraft between November and December 2002.

He was shown the "dumpy" black-handled screwdriver which caused the plane's controls to jam and confirmed he used to own one which was "almost identical".

He added that following the crash all Yak UK employees were told to check their toolboxes, at which point he realised his own flat-headed screwdriver was missing.

When asked by Northamptonshire Coroner Anne Pember if he was required to keep a written check of his own tools, Mr Speed replied: "No. I would make a mental note of what tools I needed for the job then make sure they went back in my toolbox. There was nothing written down."

The inquest heard Anthony Hunt was not allowed to take away his aircraft until checks were made to ensure no loose objects were onboard.

These checks involved slapping the plane's fuselage to hear if anything rattled inside, a method Mrs Pember stressed was "not foolproof".

The bodies of Anthony Hunt, aged 48, from Camberley in Surrey, and his 45-year-old brother, from south Wimbledon, were removed from the scene the day after the crash.

The inquest heard the air crash was the first of its kind in Britain.

Bedfordshire-based Yak UK is responsible for taking delivery of and maintaining all of the UK's Lithuanian-built Yak aircraft.

Managing director Mark Jefferies admitted that he was aware that the company's tool boxes were not locked away during the day.

The inquest was due to continue today.