North east Derbyshire plane crash ‘unsurvivable’ say investigators

The scene at Summerley Road, Apperknowle. Picture: Dan Hayes.
The scene at Summerley Road, Apperknowle. Picture: Dan Hayes.

A plane crash which claimed the life of a Chesterfield man was caused by a mechanical fault, an investigation has found.

The crash happened on Sunday, May 28 this year, when Bryan Allsop’s Europa light aircraft came down in a field near Apperknowle.

Pilot, Bryan Allsop with his wife, Sylvia (photo courtesy of the family).

Pilot, Bryan Allsop with his wife, Sylvia (photo courtesy of the family).

The 79-year-old had taken off seconds earlier from the nearby Coal Aston Airfield, but encountered problems almost instantly.

Witnesses to the crash told the Air Accident Investigation Branch how the plane’s engine changed in tone, with another saying it was ‘sputtering’.

The report concluded: “The evidence indicates that the engine suffered a partial loss of power, probably as a result of fuel vapour disrupting the fuel supply to the engine.

“It was found that the fuel vapour return line had been connected to the inlet of the fuel selector valve, rather than to the fuel tank.

The scene at Summerley Road, Apperknowle. Picture: Dan Hayes.

The scene at Summerley Road, Apperknowle. Picture: Dan Hayes.

“Any vapour in the fuel system was therefore routed back to the engine instead of returning to the fuel tank to dissipate. The accident was not survivable.”

Following the incident, the Light Aircraft Association told all Europa pilots to check for the correct installation of a fuel vapour return line.

Mr Allsop was a highly experienced pilot, gaining his pilot’s licence in 1991.

He had accrued more than 1,000 hours flying time over the previous 26 years, the vast majority of which were on the type of plane he was flying when the accident took place.

Pilot, Bryan Allsop with his plane, Dolly (photo courtesy of the family).

Pilot, Bryan Allsop with his plane, Dolly (photo courtesy of the family).

The weather conditions on the day were clear and warm, with good visibility and a gentle breeze.

In the days following the accident, Bryan’s family said flying was his ‘absolute passion’.

Bryan’s stepson, Paul Stevens, 46, of Chesterfield, said: “He would have flown every day if he could.

“His plane - Dolly - was his pride and joy.

“It makes us happy that he died doing something he loved.”