McLaren’s Eric Boullier was aboard a single-engined Cessna aircraft which was involved in an emergency landing on Sunday morning as it flew from Le Mans in France to the United Kingdom.
Boullier and Zak Brown, founder of motorsport marketing agency JMI, were aboard the aircraft when it suffered a complete electrical failure, losing all communications and instruments.
The pair were approaching the English Channel when the decision was made by pilot Alastair Breckon, the only other person on board, to return to Le Mans for an emergency landing.
Brown, speaking to Motorsport, explained that they were forced to drop altitude to allow Boullier to contact Le Mans airport on his mobile, where fire units were dispatched to escort the plane as it landed.
“I was asleep and the next thing they woke me and said we’re returning to Le Mans, we’ve lost all communications and gauges,” reported Brown. “They were remarkably calm! We were just about to get towards the sea.
“The battery lost charge and everything went. We were hoping the engine wasn’t going to cut out. We had to get down low so Eric could call Le Mans with his mobile, and they got the fire brigade ready and closed down the airport.”
Brown thanked the pilot, putting the successful landing down to his judgement and 30 years flying experience.
“The pilot was awesome,” he said. “He hadn’t had it happen to him in 30 years of flying, so it was a new one for him.
“The only other problem is the flaps are controlled by the electronics so on landing you’re not able to throw the brakes on. Fortunately because the plane is so small and light it doesn’t need much runway.”
Boullier and Brown were able to fly home later that day on a different aircraft.