Community in shock after two killed in light aircraft crash in Co Down

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A Co Down community is in shock after two people were killed in a light aircraft crash, a local representative has said.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said it had been notified of the incident and a team of inspectors had been sent to the accident site at Newtownards Airport.

The two people were members of the Ulster Flying Club.

In a statement the club expressed “great sadness and regret”.

“The incident is being investigated now by specialist investigators from the PSNI and the Air Accident Investigation Branch of the CAA.

“Whilst those investigations are ongoing, we can release no further information or details,” they said.

“Our thoughts at this most terrible time are with the families and friends of the two people involved.”

Local political representatives described shock in the community at the tragedy.

DUP MLA Harry Harvey said his thoughts are with the two grieving families and all those associated with the flying club.

“The airfield is part of daily life in Newtownards. It is a valuable and busy facility used by people from a wide area.

“People are shocked by what has happened and the thoughts are with all those affected,” he said.

“There will obviously be a detailed investigation carried out and that will help shed light on what exactly occurred in this particular incident.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt said: “The airfield is a fixture of the town, situated right on the edge of the urbanisation, not miles and miles from the town centre.

“So on a daily basis we are all used to seeing light aircraft and helicopters overhead.

“This is, above all, a human tragedy and our thoughts are with the family members and friends who have lost loved ones.”

Alliance Party councillor Vicky Moore lives near the airport and visited the scene following the crash on Tuesday evening.

She said: “It is a huge shock to the community and obviously all our thoughts are with the families of those who have been affected and particularly those that have died in the accident.

“Really the airport here in Newtownards is part of the community, it is very busy, it has been a fixture in the town for a very, very long time.

“Local people are used to the activity at the airport and this will be a terrible shock to them.”

She added: “I live under the flight path, probably about 10-15 minutes’ walk away.

“I was at the scene last night. Police were preventing anyone from getting access to the airport but you could see that a number of emergency vehicles were there.

“This is a very rare occurrence bearing in mind the amount of activity there is at the airport.

“It is mostly flying schools who use it, pleasure flying, small, independent and private aircraft use it.

“The airfield is so popular, it is not expected that something like this would happen.”

Newtownards Airport incident
Emergency services attended the scene (Rebecca Black/PA)

Emergency services rushed to the scene following a 999 call on Tuesday evening.

A PSNI spokesman said: “It was reported to police at 8.20pm that a light aircraft had crashed at the airport.

“Officers and other emergency services attended the scene.

“Sadly, two people were pronounced dead.”

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service attended, and said no patients were taken from the scene on the Portaferry Road in the town.

A statement said: “NIAS despatched two emergency crews, a doctor and an ambulance officer to the incident.

“No patients were taken from the scene.”

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