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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 230877
Last updated: 9 October 2021
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Time:11:39 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic C172 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP
Owner/operator:Steptoe And Son Properties Ltd
Registration: G-CBXJ
MSN: 172S-8125
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Sea, off Puffin Island, East of Anglesey, near Penmon -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Caernarfon Airport (EGCK)
Destination airport:Caernarfon Airport (EGCK)
Investigating agency: AAIB
The 79-year old pilot arrived at Caernarfon Airport at about 09:15 hrs on the day of the accident, having booked that morning to fly G-CBXJ with the flying club based at the airport. He planned to complete a local flight from Caernarfon out to Great Orme, a small peninsula about 24 miles along the coastline to the east, returning via Puffin Island off the north-east coast of Anglesey; a flight of about 30 minutes. The pilot checked the weather and booked out with the flying club before going out to the aircraft at about 09:25 hrs. The engine, however, would not start.

An engineer examined the aircraft and identified the starter motor shear pin had failed. Whilst the engineer worked on the aircraft, the pilot returned to the flying club where he talked to a number of people who described his demeanour as being normal. About an hour later the aircraft had been repaired and the pilot started the engine and taxied for takeoff, departing from runway 07 at 11:15 hrs.

Shortly after becoming airborne the pilot contacted Caernarfon Radio enquiring whether RAF Valley was open. Caernarfon Radio replied that it was and the pilot replied he was changing frequency to RAF Valley. The pilot contacted ATC at RAF Valley at 11:26 hrs explaining he was on “a short trip to the Orme and back” asking for a Basic Service. RAF Valley ATC acknowledged his request.

The aircraft flew up the Menai Straits at about 1,400 ft amsl and passed abeam Bangor at about 11:30 hrs. The aircraft continued to follow the mainland coastline and climbed to 1,500 ft amsl as it turned left towards Great Orme, before turning left again towards Puffin Island.

Personnel at the flying club offices sometimes checked progress of flights using the Flightradar24 app and at about 1205 hrs they looked to check the position of G-CBXJ, but could not see the aircraft on the live feed. They then searched the playback feature on the app which showed the aircraft apparently disappearing in the vicinity of Puffin Island. The flying club staff then asked Caernarfon Radio to put out a call to the pilot, but there was no response. Growing concerned, they phoned RAF Valley ATC which, at 1218 hrs, also tried to contact the pilot. Again, there was no reply and at 1235 hrs RAF Valley notified the Distress and Diversion Centre which initiated overdue action. A search was commenced using lifeboats and a search and rescue helicopter. Debris was found floating in an area north-west of Puffin Island later that afternoon.

It has not been possible to identify a definitive cause of the accident. Whilst only a remote visual examination of the aircraft was possible, there was no indication of structural failure and the flight trial conducted indicated an engine failure had not occurred. The stability of the aircraft and evidence from the flight trial points to the need for an input on the controls, if only slight, to both enter and maintain a descent along a nearly constant track, as well as turning the aircraft left and then right towards the end of the descent. There was no evidence of medical incapacitation of the pilot, however, his recent illness and the fact that causes of incapacitation are not always evident means that this cannot be excluded.


1. AAIB Final Report:
6. (photo)

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 11 months
Download report: Final report



Photo of G-CBXJ courtesy

Caernarfon (EGCK)
10 August 2008; (c) Howard J Curtis

Figure: AAIB

Revision history:

25-Nov-2019 15:18 Geno Added
25-Nov-2019 17:30 swat Updated [Aircraft type, Source]
25-Nov-2019 17:34 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Phase, Nature]
25-Nov-2019 17:53 andrew.nicholls@btop Updated [Registration, Operator, Source, Photo]
25-Nov-2019 17:54 harro Updated [Time, Cn, Operator, Phase]
25-Nov-2019 17:55 harro Updated [Source, Photo]
25-Nov-2019 17:57 harro Updated [Departure airport]
25-Nov-2019 19:14 Aerossurance Updated [Location, Nature, Narrative]
25-Nov-2019 19:20 gerard57 Updated [Total occupants, Other fatalities, Narrative]
25-Nov-2019 20:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
25-Nov-2019 20:28 RobertMB Updated [Source, Embed code]
25-Nov-2019 20:31 RobertMB Updated [Operator]
01-Dec-2019 18:34 Scouse23 Updated [Source]
13-Dec-2019 20:06 Newforest Updated [Embed code]
17-Dec-2019 17:16 Dr. John Smith Updated [Total fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
17-Dec-2019 17:27 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
17-Dec-2019 17:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Embed code, Damage, Narrative]
17-Dec-2019 17:33 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
17-Dec-2019 17:39 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
29-Oct-2020 20:55 harro Updated [Destination airport, Embed code, Narrative, Accident report, Photo]
11-Nov-2020 19:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative, Accident report]

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