Poulton pilot found guilty of multiple offences after M62 plane crash that 'could have ended with fatalities'

Robert Murgatroyd
Robert Murgatroyd
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A Poulton pilot whose plane crashed in Salford recklessly endangered the lives of his passengers by packing his aircraft to almost 500lbs over its maximum take-off weight.

Robert Murgatroyd, 52, of Poulton, was convicted of several offences under the Air Navigation Order and the Civil Aviation Regulations following a trial at Manchester Crown Court.

The court heard that, on September 9 2017, Murgatroyd piloted a Piper Cherokee light aircraft that was supposed to travel Barton Aerodrome, Manchester, to the Isle of Barra, Scotland, with three paying passengers on board.

Shortly after take-off, the aeroplane crossed the M62 motorway twice before clipping trees, descending and crashing into a field nearby.

Murgatroyd suffered a broken nose. One passenger suffered a cut to his hand, one suffered suspected cracked ribs and whiplash, and another suffered a serious cut to the head and severe bruising to his ribs.

An investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority and Greater Manchester Police’s serious collision investigation unit found that the aircraft was 426lbs over the maximum take-off weight of 2150lbs.

Murgatroyd was found guilty of:

- Recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft or persons in an aircraft

- Recklessly endangering the safety of persons or property

- Conducting a public transport flight without an Air Operator Certificate

- Acting as a pilot without holding an appropriate licence

- Flying outside the flight manual limitations

- Flying without insurance

- Flying without the aircraft flight manual

He will be sentenced on March 15.

Alison Slater, Head of the UK Civil Aviation Authority's investigation and enforcement team, said: “This was a very serious incident that could have ended with fatalities. Robert Murgatroyd has been found guilty of numerous offences, which collectively display a serious disregard for the safety of his passengers and the public. We hope his convictions will deter other pilots from ignoring the law for personal profit.”