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British poultry baron, 72, died when his plane hit 2,250ft mountain in Canadian blizzard

A British chicken baron died when his six-seater plane crashed into a mountain flying while across Canada in a blizzard, an investigation has concluded.

Alan Simpson, 72, was killed in May last year when his light aircraft plowed into a 2,250ft snow-covered hilltop in the remote Labrador region. 

The Shropshire farmer and his Belgian pilot had programmed the auto-pilot not to go above 2,000ft, meaning they were not high enough to clear the mountain.

The pilot, who had been hired to fly Mr Simpson’s new M350 Piper back to the UK, was pulled from the crushed wreckage alive and survived his injuries.

He was said to be familiar with the route and intended to follow a ‘visual flight rules’ plan and steer around weather and terrain, but is believed to have not seen the mountain through the blizzard. 

Mr Simpson, whose company Alan Simpson Farming is one of the country’s biggest broiler producers, was later pronounced dead in a clinic in Makkovik.

Alan Simpson, 72, was killed in May last year when his light aircraft plowed into a 2,250ft snow-covered hilltop in the remote Labrador region

The pair had been flying from Goose Bay Airport, Newfoundland and Labrador, to Narsarsuaq Airport in Greenland when the crash happened. 

The official air transportation safety investigation report carried out by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada states: ‘The aircraft climbed to 2,000 feet above sea level and proceeded on a direct track to destination.

‘The altitude and heading did not change significantly along the route, therefore it is likely that the autopilot was engaged. 

‘At 8.16am, the aircraft collided with a snow-covered hill 2,250 feet in elevation.’ 

It also details how a specialist team took four hours to rescue the pilot because bad weather had ruled out an air rescue.

It stated: ‘The impact happened approximately 200ft below the top of the hill. The aircraft came to rest in deep snow on steep sloping terrain. 

‘The aircraft sustained significant damage to the propeller, nose gear, both wings, and fuselage.

‘Although the cabin was crush-damaged, occupiable space remained. There was no post-impact fire. The ferry pilot was seriously injured and the co-owner was fatally injured.

‘Air search and rescue were dispatched to the area; however, by that time, the weather had deteriorated to blizzard conditions and aerial rescue was not possible. 

Ground search and rescue then deployed from the coastal community of Makkovik and arrived at the accident site approximately four hours later because of poor weather conditions and near zero visibility. 

The ferry pilot and the body of the co-owner were transported to Makkovik by snowmobile. The following day, they were airlifted to Goose Bay Airport.’

After the crash Mr Simpson’s family said he would be ‘deeply missed’, and added they were ‘eternally grateful’ to the search and rescue teams that helped locate the plane.

Mr Simpson was a well known golfer, believed to have links to Hawkstone Park Golf Club, and enjoyed a number of sporting pursuits including diving and shooting.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said weather conditions were poor at the time of the crash.

Two military aircraft, including a Cormorant helicopter, were in the area but blizzard-like conditions prevented rescue crews from accessing the crash site. 

A ground search and rescue team reached the pair and they were transported to hospital by snowmobile.

Major Mark Norris, from the Canadian Armed Forces Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, and who was part of the search and rescue operation, said it was ‘very complex and challenging’ as the plane crashed in an area ‘beyond remote’.

He said they received an alert from the aircraft’s emergency transmitting beacon at 9.30am local time and teams were deployed to a mountain near Makkovik.

He said one of the men was able to send text messages to rescue teams, and, despite the weather conditions, the pair were extracted several hours later.