INVESTIGATIONS into the wingwalker plane crash during this year’s Bournemouth Air Festival have been ramped up after the collection of initial evidence.

Both pilot David Barrell and wingwalker Kirsten Pobjoy escaped from the AeroSuperBatics plane with minor injuries after a “successful ditching” in Poole Harbour on Saturday, September 4.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed to the Daily Echo that it had upgraded its enquiries from a correspondence investigation to a field investigation.

The former would have seen a report published within a matter of months. However, the change in investigation type means it could be up to a year after the incident before the AAIB shares its findings.

Bournemouth Echo:

A spokeswoman for the AAIB said: “Initial evidence collected determined this accident warranted additional investigation and it has since been upgraded from a correspondence investigation to a field investigation.”

Aerosuperbatics, which is based at Rendcomb Airfield in Cirencester, said the plane was ditched in the water near Sandbanks during a Bournemouth Air Festival Display following “technical difficulties”.

Air festival displays were suspended for the rest of the day but resumed on the Sunday.

Bournemouth Echo: The biplane ditched in Poole Harbour. Picture: John ThackerThe biplane ditched in Poole Harbour. Picture: John Thacker

Following the crash, AeroSuperBatics issued a statement which said: “On Saturday, September 4, one of our aircraft suffered technical difficulties during an air display at Bournemouth Air Festival.

“Unfortunately, the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude and despite very difficult circumstances, a successful ditching was carried out into Poole Harbour. Both pilot (David Barrell) and wingwalker (Kirsten Pobjoy) sustained minor injuries, received medical treatment in Poole Hospital and were released shortly thereafter.”

The AAIB’s field investigations involve a small team of inspectors selected from the organisation's four main disciplines (operations, engineering, recorded data and human factors) going to the incident site or to the location of the aircraft following a serious incident.

Inspectors will gather physical evidence from the plane as well as details on training records, flight plans, aircraft logs or maintenance records during the site phase.

Bournemouth Echo: A plane is lifted from the sea in the Sandbanks area of Poole Harbour after it crashed into the sea on Saturday afternoon during the Bournemouth Air Festival. Picture date: Sunday September 5, 2021..

In light aircraft accidents, electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and GPS units are taken by inspectors as they may provide helpful information about what happened. More detailed enquiries will follow, typically from the AAIB base at Farnborough.

Once the evidence has been analysed, conclusions have been drawn and safety recommendations have been made, a draft report goes through internal reviews with the AAIB and consultations before it is published.

A spokesperson for With regard to the incident at the Bournemouth Air Festival, we are cooperating fully the Civil Aviation Authority and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.  The investigation into the technical failure suffered by one of our aircraft is ongoing, so we are not in a position to comment any further until that process has reached its conclusion when the facts are fully established.