Plane crash investigators to remove wreckage

Investigators are to remove wreckage from a fatal plane crash that claimed two lives in Co Antrim and bring it to a site in Farnborough, England, for closer examination.

The deceased were members of the Ulster Flying Club in Newtownards.

The plane, a light aircraft, came down close to a wooded area near Nutts Corner, Co Antrim, shortly after noon on Thursday – two or three miles from Belfast International Airport.

Eyewitnesses have described the plane circling the area before coming down and catching fire after the collision.

A spokesman for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said investigators were on site on Thursday “to examine the wreckage of the aircraft and to start a field investigation looking at all aspects of the aircraft’s operation”.

The spokesman added: “This weekend, we expect to recover the aircraft wreckage to our facility at Farnborough for more detailed examination. The AAIB investigation will take some time and an accident report will be released in due course.”

DUP Strangford MP Jim Shannon said the incident has “devastated” the Ulster Flying Club. “They are a very close club, where everybody knows everybody. This tragedy is one that impacts on the families, and that is where our first thoughts are, but also on the wider flying fraternity,” he said.

“Those in the club are obviously very distraught, devastated and concerned, as is the wider community. We have two families who are bereaved and the impact on them is greater than anybody else, but the ripples from this tragedy will affect a great many people.”

Ulster Flying Club said it cannot comment while the AAIB investigation is ongoing.