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Air crash tests are carried out

19 August 08 12:07 GMT

Post-mortem examinations are being carried out on the bodies of five people killed in an air crash in Warwickshire.

The bodies of two men and two women who were in a Cessna 402 aircraft, and one person who was in a solo-piloted small aircraft, were recovered on Monday.

The aircraft collided above Coombe Abbey near Coventry Airport on Sunday.

Investigators said it appeared the two aircraft had been coming in to land when the crash happened.

Police said they would release the names of the victims once formal identification has taken place.

Fingertip search

Rescue teams made up of officers from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and the RAF worked for nearly two days to recover the bodies.

The first body, thought to be that of the small aircraft pilot, was found by rescue crews near Coombe Abbey, about two miles from Coventry Airport.

Teams searching Brandon Wood later found the other four bodies.

Families of the victims have laid flowers at the edge of the wood.

Investigators are preparing to start a full fingertip search of the crash sites to try to work out how the accident happened.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which has been leading the investigation, said the crash happened as both aircraft were approaching to land at Coventry airport at the time of the collision.

A statement said: "The wreckage from both aircraft will be recovered to the AAIB's facility at Farnborough for more detailed examination.

"An AAIB field investigation is now under way and an accident report will be released in due course."

All four people on board the Cessna - three pilots and an engineer - were employees of specialist survey company Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL), based at Coventry airport.

RVL managing director Colin Dennis said the team had been a minute off landing at the airport.

He said: "The people involved were extremely experienced pilots with many hundreds, indeed thousands, of hours of flying time.

"All were talking all the time to air traffic control. They were within a minute of landing at the airport in an entirely normal flight.

"There were no technical issues, no problems. They were just returning perfectly normally, and suddenly they are involved in a mid-air collision.

"It certainly has had a profound impact on all of us."

The British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) said the smaller aircraft involved in the crash was a home-built kit plane.

'Home-built aircraft'

Geoff Weighell, chief executive of the BMAA, said: "I have confirmed that the aircraft was not a microlight.

"It was a two seat home-built light aircraft from the LAA (Light Aircraft Association) fleet.

"Irrespective of aircraft type I would like to offer the condolences of all the BMAA membership to the families and friends of the pilots and passengers of the two aircraft."

Both aircraft came down on Sunday morning towards the front of Coombe Abbey, a historic luxury hotel.

The Cessna landed in woods, while the light aircraft crashed into a cornfield about a mile away.

Eyewitnesses previously praised the pilot of the Cessna for steering the aircraft away from a built-up area.

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