A pilot crash landed in Nigeria just days after registering his concerns about the plane which claimed his life, an inquest heard this afternoon.
David Sewell, 67, of First Avenue, Dunstable, was test flying an eight seater Beechcraft C90 when it plunged into the ground in Kaduna on May 24 2011– killing him and the only passenger Avong Ayuba.
Mr Sewell had been preparing to fly the plane back to the UK and in the week prior to the crash he organised it to be fixed.
However in emails sent six days before his death he indicated that the work was not progressing as he would have liked.
One read: “I have got a big mess on my hands with the plane...the Sahara is not a place to experiment.”
In another he wrote that the plane was in a “terrible condition”
Mr Sewell’s niece Victoria told the inquest: “He was a very meticulous person who would always put safety first.
“He was not a qualified engineer so he relied on those at DANA (a Nigerian aviation company).
“He died with the chief engineer (Ayuba) who had 25 years of experience.
“He had considerable experience...it sounds like the plane was not in a good condition.”
At a pre-inquest hearing held on November 17 senior coroner Tom Osborne noted that the information he had received from air accident investigators in Nigeria had been ‘non existent’.
This position had not changed by the time of the full inquest, which went ahead nearly three years after Mr Sewell’s death.
For that reason there was little detail on what had caused the crash, but local reports suggested that the pilot had got into difficulty close to a university campus in Kaduna.
Fire officers from a nearby Nigerian airforce base were only able to reach the scene 45 minutes later due to the ‘inaccessibilty’ of the crash site.
A post mortem report by RAF pathologist Graham Maidment, which was read out during today’s inquest, concluded that head and chest injuries, as well as fire, caused Mr Sewell’s death.
It added: “There is no compelling evidence he was alive at any stage during the fire.”
At the conclusion of the inquest Mr Osborne paid tribute to the 67-year-old, who had previously worked as the catering manager at Whipsnade Zoo.
He said: “I finally express my own condolences for David’s death...I know that everyone has very happy memories of David.
“Try to dwell on these happy memories rather than the tragic circumstance of his death.”