Pilot bailed out moments before plane crashed into flats

An aerobatic aircraft pilot bailed out moments before his plane crashed into a block of flats, an investigation has found.

The plane’s canopy broke up without warning during the flight above Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

This resulted in the 62-year-old pilot, who was not named, suffering a deep cut to the face and the loss of sight in his right eye, investigators said.

The man deployed his parachute and drifted to the ground.

The plane, manufactured by German company Extra, had been used for aerobatics near Enstone Airfield earlier in the flight.

After the pilot bailed out it descended and crashed into a newly constructed and unoccupied three-storey block of flats.

No-one on the ground was injured.

The plane was destroyed and the building severely damaged.

The investigation identified a “lack of appropriate bonding” between the inner and outer canopy frames, causing “increased stresses” which resulted in cracks and the “catastrophic failure”.

One safety action has been made by the aircraft manufacturer and two safety recommendations have been made by the AAIB regarding the design and installation of the canopy.

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