Letchworth solicitor’s plane crash death caused by pilot error

A PLANE crash which killed four people including Letchworth solicitor John Ritchie was caused by pilot error, a coroner ruled today (Wednesday).

William Morris said Vittorio Rossetti, who also died in the horror smash, failed draw up a plan of his flight from Trento to Venice in Italy.

As his colleagues flying alongside him on an International Federation of Flying Rotarians (IFFR) trip took a safer route through the main Valle Gulva, Mr Rossetti plunged into dangerous terrain approaching the Passo Borcola.

When he ran into trouble, the weight of the aircraft which was also carrying Mr Rossetti’s wife meant he was unable to turn to avoid an impending collision in time.

Witnesses saw the light aircraft make two sharp turns to the left and the right before exploding on impact, instantly killing all those on board.

“This incident, I’m clear, occurred through pilot error,” Mr Morris said.

“There appears to have been inadequate flight planning and we know no formal flight plan was lodged.

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“Taking into account the performance of the aircraft in relation to the topography, I’ve heard the pilot could have taken a safer route down the main valley.”

The plane was 88kg overweight when it took off at about 4pm on June 1 2008, which senior air accident investigator Andrew Blackie said “reduced controllability”.

Speaking after the inquest at Huntingdon Law Courts, Mr Ritchie’s son George said the coroner’s verdict was “absolutely right”.

He said: “The verdict shows it was not just simply an accident but was caused as a result of serious failures by the pilot. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Mr Ritchie snr was a keen flyer and had been a member of the IFFR for several years.

He had been due to fly to Italy with his son for an IFFR event but had travelled by RyanAir together after the younger Ritchie decided not to fly the pair’s jointly-owned plane from the UK.

It was only at a dinner the night before that Mr Ritchie snr agreed to Mr Rossetti’s offer to fly him on the fateful trip.