AN Antrobus man who died in a plane crash having set off from his private airstrip had likely struggled with a flight control system issue, an investigation has found.

John Backhouse, 62, of Sandy Lane, died when his twin-engine plane crashed into the runway at Caernarfon Airport in north Wales on September 6, 2017, having requested an emergency landing.

A report by the Air Accident Investigation Bureau said that the damage done to the plane on impact and subsequent fire made it difficult to determine the cause of the crash ‘with a high level of confidence’.

But it did find that issues with pitch control would have caused ‘considerable difficulty in controlling the aircraft’.

CCTV and eyewitnesses’ accounts of the crash, at 5.23pm, reported that the twin-engine Piper PA-31 aircraft appeared to approach faster and lower than usual, rocking from side to side with its engines making a ‘high-pitched noise’.

Mr Backhouse, described by friends as ‘lovely’ in tributes in 2017, had 42 years and more than 4,000 hours of flying experience and had radioed air traffic control around 30 minutes after take-off to report the issue.

He requested a diversion to Caernarfon from his original Dublin destination but investigators believe that, sadly, issues with pitch – relating to the angle between the nose and tail of the plane – led to a level crash landing on Runway 25 with the landing gear retracted.

The report said: “The aircraft contacted the runway heavily with a high rate of descent. It then bounced into the air for just less than two seconds, during which it rolled right, through almost 360 degrees around its longitudinal axis, before impact with the runway again.

“A significant fire broke out as the aircraft slid along the runway. The aircraft came to rest nine seconds after it had initially struck the runway.

“The RFFS arrived at the aircraft five minutes later, and shortly after started to apply fire suppressant. The pilot had been fatally injured.”

A post-mortem examination revealed no evidence of underlying disease or toxicology which could have contributed to the event.

As a result of the crash, the European Aviation Safety Agency has undertaken action to promote awareness and training in relation to trim runaways.