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Plane crashed into flats after pilot forced to eject, investigation finds

There were no residents in the flats when the crash happened
There were no residents in the newly built flats when the crash happened

A plane crashed into a block of flats after the pilot was forced to eject, an air accident investigation has found.

He suffered a cut to his head after he parachuted out and drifted to the ground when the canopy above his head started to break up mid-flight

A report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that bonding between two layers of the canopy was faulty.

Just minutes before the incident, which took place in Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire two years ago, the 62-year-old pilot, who was not named in the report, had been performing acrobatics and everything had seemed okay.

The pilot told investigators he felt he had “no option but to bail out of the aircraft”, according to the report.

A 45-year-old woman said she was sitting in her garden when she heard the plane fly overhead and looked up to see the pilot suddenly ejecting out of the cockpit with a parachute which rapidly opened.

‘Catastrophic failure’

George Parker, who lives just a few hundred yards from the crash scene at the former United States Air Force base, said: “I was amazed to see the parachute and then realised that the plane was coming down at a 45-degree angle and was going to crash.

“I saw the pilot come down in a nearby field as the plane smashed into a block of new build flats. Fortunately, no one has yet moved into them,” she said.

The plane, manufactured by German company Extra, had been used for aerobatics near Enstone Airfield earlier in the flight.

The AAIB investigation identified a “lack of appropriate bonding” between the inner and outer canopy frames, causing “increased stresses” which resulted in cracks and the “catastrophic failure”.

One safety action has been made by the aircraft manufacturer and two safety recommendations have been made by the AAIB regarding the design and installation of the canopy.