An air accident investigation is continuing after a plane went missing on a flight from the UK to France. It is thought the private aircraft disappeared when encountering bad weather approximately 20 miles west of Le Touquet.

The Piper Cherokee Arrow II (G-EGVA) went missing on the flight from Wellesbourne airfield in Warwickshire to the French seaside town on April 2. It was one of seven aircraft taking part in a club ‘fly-out’ with two people abroad.

A line of thick convective cloud was forecast on the intended route in the English Channel. As they approached the middle of the Channel, one of the pilots of G-EGVA, which was operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), reported they had entered the cloudy conditions.

Neither of the pilots was qualified to fly in these circumstances and shortly after the radio message the aircraft disappeared from radar.

An extensive search of the area was co-ordinated by the UK and French Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centres but neither the aircraft nor its occupants were found. Available evidence suggests that control of the aircraft was lost when it entered cloud.

Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents, said: “This was a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the loved ones of the missing pilots at this time. The accident highlights how hazardous it is to fly into cloud when not suitably qualified or when not in current practice in instrument flying.

“Sadly, the AAIB has investigated numerous accidents when control of an aircraft was lost in these circumstances. Pilots are reminded of the importance of pre-flight weather decision making and always having contingency plans just in case the weather proves to be worse than expected.”

The Investigation continues to examine operational, technical, and human factors which might have contributed to this accident. A final report will be issued in due course.

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