Monday, March 31, 2008

Crew of Biggin Hill Cessna Citation crash identified

Yesterday, March 30, 2008, a Cessna Citation 500 aircraft crashed into a residential area shortly after takeoff from London Biggin Hill Airport (EGKB). The aircraft had just departed Biggin Hill en route to France when it reportedly experienced engine trouble. The crew declared a 'mayday' and attempted to return to Biggin Hill, but crashed 2.5 miles north of the airfield. There were no survivors among the two crew members and three passengers on board. No one on the ground was injured, but the crash caused a fire that did extensive damage to a home and its surroundings.

A press statement issued today by the London Biggin Hill Airport identified the pilot in command of the accident aircraft as Mike Roberts. The press statement said this about Mr. Roberts:
Mike Roberts, the Captain was a very experienced commercial pilot and a friend of many of us on the airport. His cool judgment in managing the aircraft emergency and minimizing loss of life on the ground is typical of such a remarkable man and he will be sorely missed.

His business partner of 15 years, Mike Wells said that Mike Roberts was an extremely experienced commercial pilot and a remarkable man.

“I have known Michael for 20 years and know that he would have done everything in his power to minimize the effects of this tragic incident on his colleagues, passengers and people on the ground. He will be missed by everyone in the flying community at Biggin Hill and by his many friends worldwide.”
The BBC News published an article profiling those whose lives were lost in yesterday's Citation crash. That article included a photo of Mike Roberts, above, and identified the other pilot as Michael Chapman, 57.

The UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is investigating the cause of the accident. Yesterday the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that it was dispatching a team to assist the AAIB in its investigation. According to the NTSB, an aviation systems technical specialist will accompany the U.S. Accredited Representative. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Cessna Aircraft Company are also sending investigators as part of the team.

Condolences to the families and friends of the deceased Citation crew and their passengers.

[Photo Source]

UPDATE April 2, 2008: Here is a link to a video and accompanying article about the Biggin Hill Citation accident on David Learmount, Operations and Safety editor of wrote the article and speaks in the video.