Upminster: East London woodland plane crash caused by loss of engine power, probe finds

Firefighters at the scene of the crash (LFB)
Firefighters at the scene of the crash (LFB)

A plane crash in an east London woodland which left two people seriously injured was caused by a sudden loss of power, a report has found.

The two-seat plane crash occurred near Damyns Hall Aerodrome in Upminster on April 4 last year, with two people being rushed to hospital for serious wounds.

An investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that the aircraft did not climb as expected because the engine was not developing full power, before it cut out.

Investigators found this loss of power was “probably caused by an age-related split in the rubber coupling attaching the carburettor to the engine.”

The probe found: “During the climb after what was thought to be a normal takeoff the aircraft did not climb as expected.

“When at 300 ft, the pilot identified that the engine was not developing full power. With insufficient height or speed to return to the runway, and no suitable landing sites immediately available, the pilot attempted to remain airborne.

“The engine then stopped, the aircraft stalled and entered a spin before striking the ground.”

A check of the engine and plane in January 2023 had not thrown up any issues, despite a lack of evidence the couplings had ever been replaced since the plane was built in 2006.

The couplings on the Jabiru UL-450 light aircraft  had only a five-year shelf life.

The AAIB issued two safety recommendations following the crash.

The first was for a mandatory life limit for the Jabiru carburettor coupling.

The second was for officials to consider mandating a life limit for similar components used on other engine and aircraft types.