Donate now

Jersey RNLI volunteer crews rescue two people from light aircraft ditched in sea

Lifeboats News Release

At 1.54pm yesterday (Thursday 3 November), all three of Jersey's RNLI lifeboats were requested by Jersey Coastguard to search for the flight crew of a Piper aircraft that had reportedly ditched in the sea off the south east coast of the Island.

The RNLI vessels were joined in the search by a French search and rescue helicopter, Dragon 50, the Channel Islands Air Search plane based in Guernsey and Ports of Jersey’s pilot boat Rival.

The RNLI crews arrived on the scene in force six to seven winds with two to three metre swell and commenced a search of the area in coordination with the Jersey Coastguard and the other search and rescue assets. Two people were found safe and well relatively quickly in a life raft by the St Helier inshore lifeboat. They were then transferred to the all-weather lifeboat and transported back to St Helier where they were met by Paramedics.

The casualties were calm and well-equipped despite the tough conditions. The experienced pilots were doing advanced refresher training when the engine lost power. They did everything they knew and could to raise the alarm and 20 seconds before they ditched air traffic confirmed the RNLI lifeboats were being launched.

They used their skill to fly the plane into the wind to slow the speed and were able to land in the sea. They already had their lifejackets on, life raft ready and were able to climb onto the wing as the plane took a few minutes before it started to sink. They also activated their personal locator beacon which gave the RNLI crew a good directional signal to follow. From ditching in the sea to their rescue, the casualties were in the water for just under 1 hour.

RNLI Jersey commend the swift action of the casualties to evacuate to the life raft once the plane started to sink and having their electronic detection equipment. Their actions and use of their safety equipment greatly improved their chances of survival allowing our crews to locate them quickly in the challenging conditions.

If you are heading out to sea this winter, please check your equipment and make sure you are carrying the right safety equipment for your journey.

RNLI Jersey

Transfer to all weather lifeboat

RNLI Jersey

Picture of the life raft

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.