Chigwell air crash tragedy: Plane operators LEA pay tribute to ‘passionate’ pilots Rob Bull and Francis Simmonds

PUBLISHED: 16:15 09 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:15 09 October 2015

Rob Bull, pilot killed in the Chigwell air crash

Rob Bull, pilot killed in the Chigwell air crash


The operators of a plane which crashed in Chigwell killing the two pilots on board have paid tribute to the pair in a heartfelt statement.

Francis Simmonds, pilot killed in the Chigwell air crashFrancis Simmonds, pilot killed in the Chigwell air crash

Robert Bull, from Romford, and Francis Simmonds, from Luton, died after their aircraft crashed into a field near Gravel Lane on Saturday.

Today (Friday), London Executive Aviation’s managing director George Galanopoulos said: “Rob and Francis were highly experienced professional pilots and respected, popular members of the LEA team.

“They were both passionate about flight and shared the great people skills that mark out the best charter pilots.

“We are all in shock and deeply saddened by this tragic loss and are doing everything possible to support the families and our other employees at this terribly difficult time.

“We have also mobilised our full resources to assist the authorities in their investigation of the accident.”

The accident happened at around 10:20am, when an LEA-owned Beechcraft King Air 200 turboprop aircraft came down in a field close to Stapleford Airport almost immediately after take-off.

Mr Bull, who captained the aircraft on Saturday, joined London Executive Aviation in June 2015.

The company said during his seven-year professional flying career, the devoted father of one amassed “considerable experience” of flying King Air aircraft and other smaller aircraft types.

He achieved his commercial licence in 2008 and was a CAA flying examiner.

Mr Simmonds was a long-serving member of the LEA team, having joined the company in 2005.

He was experienced in flying multiple aircraft types, including business jets.

He had been a pilot for more than 15 years and started flying commercially for LEA in 2007, having first worked in the company’s operations centre.

In its statement, the company said: “Francis was widely known across LEA and also carried out non-flying duties, such as company process audits.

“He was a devoted husband and dad to his wife Laura of 11 years and seven-year-old son.”

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