A FATAL plane crash which claimed the life of a pilot could have been caused by ice, an investigation has revealed

The crash in Belchamp Water earlier this year which killed Stuart Penfold, 54, of Halstead, was investigated by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

A report has now outlined the full details of what happened.

The report said: “The pilot was conducting a test flight in G-AWMN to renew the aircraft’s permit to fly.

“Whilst climbing away from the runway, the aircraft was observed to bank and then descend steeply to the ground.

“It was not possible to definitively determine the cause of the accident. It is possible the engine stopped producing power due to carburettor icing which led to a stall from which the aircraft was not able to recover.

“The investigation also identified that, despite wire locking being present, the barrel from an aileron flight control turnbuckle was missing, but it could not be determined if this had been missing prior to the accident.”

Mr Penfold died when the Luton Minor plane crashed on February 3.

He had more than 300 hours of flying experience, 150 of which were in G-AWMN.

The report added: “No-one witnessed G-AWMN taking off and it is not known exactly when the aircraft was started up.

“The airfield owner heard G-AWMN start up but was not sure exactly what time this occurred, but he was informed of the accident approximately 15 minutes later.

“The pilot who took off from Waits Farm at 11am reported the temperature was -1C and the grass was wet with melting frost.

“The chart suggests with these conditions there is a moderate risk of carburettor icing at cruise power and a serious risk at descent power.

“However, the leaflet highlights with wet ground and light winds the humidity could be higher and further increase the risk of icing.”