Wednesday, September 12, 2012



A SCOTS trainee pilot who died alongside her brother in a plane crash last year was at fault for the tragic accident, the American authorities have ruled.
Carly Beattie, 21, was at the controls of the Cessna 152 aircraft when it plummeted into a Florida swap on June 9, killing her and her 24-year-old brother Daniel.

Although initial reports suggested the plane might have suffered technical problems, a year-long investigation into the tragedy has determined that pilot error was the most likely cause.

The findings will come as a further blow to the siblings' devastated parents, Thomas and Elaine Beattie, from Penicuik, Midlothian.

The family were visiting Miss Beattie, who was studying in the US as part of her pilot degree, at the time of the ill-fated flight last year.

A report by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) states the "probable cause" of the crash was Miss Beattie's "failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin".

The siblings hired the Cessna from the Space Coast Aviation flying school on Flordia's Merritt Island but never returned.

It took the authorities several hours to find the wreckage of the plane, which had "nose-dived" into a wooded swamp near the Blue Cypress resort, 50 miles away.

The inquiry found that the plane issued a distress signal shortly before the crash and the investigation focused on part of the Cessna's rudder which was said to be incorrectly fitted

News reports last year suggested that a second crash involving another aircraft leased from the same flying school could indicate the planes had suffered technical problems.

The report, published on Friday, reads: "Review of radar data revealed that in the last few minutes of the flight the airplane made several maneuvering turns. The reason the pilot chose to maneuver in that location is unknown. The final maneuvers included a 70-degree right turn to a heading of 180 degrees.

"About two minutes later, the airplane made a 360-degree left turn, and radar contact was lost. The radar data was consistent with cruise speed throughout the flight, except for the last return, which indicated that the airplane had slowed significantly.

"Post-accident wreckage signatures were consistent with a spinning descent and impact, indicating that the airplane likely entered an aerodynamic stall from which the pilot did not recover."

Bill Walker, a family friend and Miss Beattie's former athletics coach, told the Sunday Express that he was "surprised" by the verdict.

"Carly had quite a bit of experience, she had studied flying down in England and had travelled to America to get even more experience with commercial planes. She had been passing all of her exams.

"I'd be surprised if Carly was at fault here - I've heard that the [leasing] company had experienced crashes in the past and they had been down to problems with their planes.

"I think that hearing the findings will be quite distressing for her parents but I can't see them challenging the decision - I don't think that they'd want to drag this out any longer."

In April the Sunday Express revealed that Edinburgh Athletic Club, where Carly trained as a sprinter, had decided to hold a special annual event in tribute to her, whilst Morningside School of Music launched an award in memory of Daniel, who was a keen guitarist.

Speaking at the time Mr Beattie admitted the tragedy was "too tender" to revisit, adding: "I've lost my kids, and that is never going to go away."

And Mr Walker, who too has experienced his own tragic losses within the past year, explained that the couple have tried to spend time away from home in an attempt to deal with their grief.

"I lost my daughter last year and my wife last month so I've been spending time with them both. On Carly's birthday we went out for a meal together.

"They seem to be coping, they have been on quite a lot of holidays. I think it makes it easier not being around the family home."

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