Search for pilot whose light aircraft crashed into English Channel set to resume

British emergency services coordinate cross-channel search and rescue operation in hunt for single-engine plane that came down off the Kent coast

An air-and-sea search by British and French rescuers investigating a light aircraft crash in the English Channel was expected to resume on Monday morning.

Fading light last night prompted authorities to call off attempts to find the missing pilot.

A cross-Channel search was launched after the American-registered plane carrying only one person came down about 15 miles off Dungeness in Kent at about 2.30pm on Sunday. The search and rescue operation involved both English and French teams, including a French helicopter and the Dungeness RNLI lifeboat.

The alarm was raised after authorities noticed the aircraft, which was heading from Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire to Le Touquet in France, was overdue, a spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

A French helicopter later found the wreckage of the aircraft, but the pilot had yet to be found. The MCA spokesman said: “We had reports that an aircraft was overdue. It was heading from London to Le Touquet.

“The search has been involving a French helicopter and it has been searching for two hours.

“That will have to return shortly and that will be replaced by a search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham in Suffolk. The Dungeness lifeboat is en route and we believe the Calais lifeboat is also involved. The search is ongoing at the moment to find the pilot.”

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch spokesman said: “The AAIB have deployed a team to collect evidence and begin an initial investigation. The position of the aircraft will determine if the full investigation will be led by the AAIB or the French authorities.”

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