UK aviation entrepreneur dies in Malaysia plane crash

Michael Robert Dacre killed when aircraft he was test piloting crashed during takeoff from Taiping airstrip

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 16 August 2009 15.11 BST

A Jetpod aircab aircraft of the sort being tested when the accident happened. Photograph:

A pilot who died when his plane crashed during a test flight in Malaysia today has been described as an aviation entrepreneur.

Michael Robert Dacre was killed when the plane he was test piloting crashed during takeoff from an airstrip in Taiping, Malaysian police said.

The 53-year-old was flying a Jetpod aircraft, developed by his UK-based company, AVCEN, when the accident happened.

The plane, which was being tried out at the Tekah airstrip, is being developed to take off and land in short distances and cruise at low levels.

It would need only 125 metres (410ft) to take off or land, allowing runways to be constructed close to city centres, and would be quiet enough to not be noticeable above the noise of traffic.

Professor Jeff Jupp, who worked as an aerospace consultant on Dacre's project in the UK, said the crash victim had a lot of flying experience.

"He was a typical aviation entrepreneur," he said. "He was very keen on his project ... he saw a market for it.

"He was very prepared to take on expert opinion – not dogmatic at all – and he was very enthusiastic, driving the project on personally.

"I thought his idea was very interesting. It could have been a useful addition to the aviation scene."

Mohd Sobri Abdullah, the senior officer of the Taiping fire and rescue service, told the Malaysian Bernama news agency that fire and rescue personnel had been stationed at the airstrip at the request of the company before the crash.

He said the plane had reached an altitude of 200 metres when it plunged to the ground and burst into flames.

The Department of Civil Aviation is investigating the cause of the crash.



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