12th January 1999
Channel Express Airways plane crashes on Guernsey
A Fokker F27–600 aircraft was destroyed and its crew of two killed when it clipped a house on Forest Road on its final approach to Guernsey Airport.
The aircraft had left Luton at 4.14pm and was carrying three tonnes of newspapers. Unfortunately, these had been improperly loaded, and as the plane approached the runway they had shifted within the fuselage, unbalancing the aircraft and causing it to rotate until its nose was pointing into the air. It was unable to recover, the consequences of which were fatal. It stalled, span and crashed. Both the plane and the house it crashed into caught fire, and while the occupant of the house escaped unhurt, those onboard the plane were killed.
The Air Accident Investigation Board made seven recommendations in the wake of the crash including a modification of cargo loading practices – and that handling agents always ask for written instructions before starting work. While these could be implemented quite easily, the effects of the crash on Guernsey’s ecosystem were still being felt long after the first few days and weeks had passed.
The fire service had needed to use potentially toxic foam to douse the fire, which was later found to contain unsafe levels of acid. These had seeped into the field where the plane had come down, and although no remnants had entered the drinking water supply, they were detected at the pumping station at Petit Bot as late as 2013, as this was where the field drained.
After consultation, the decision was made to remove the top two metres of soil from the area. The same had been done with land closer to the airport the year before. Work on the removal began in March 2015 at a cost of £300,000.