An investigator with the Air Accident Investigation Unit has said that an Air Corps plane which crashed in Connemara over two years ago was maintained to a very high standard.

Captain Derek Furniss, 32, from Rathfarnham in Dublin and Cadet David Jevens, 22, from Co Wexford died on 12 October 2009.

The two-seater Pilatus PC-9 crashed into a hillside near Cornamona on the Galway-Mayo border.

Paddy Judge told the inquest in Galway into the deaths of Captain Derek Furniss, 32, and Cadet David Jevens, 22, in October 2009 that after the crash the engine was deemed to be working normally.

However, he said there were minor problems with two pieces of equipment.

Mr Judge of the Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Unit, which published a report on the accident in January, told the inquest that the weather was deteriorating as the aircraft travelled from Baldonnel towards Maum, Co Galway.

He rejected suggestions from counsel for the Furniss family, Ciaran Creavin, that there could have been causes for the crash other than the pilot in charge suffering disorientation from somatographic illusion.

Mr Judge insisted the Captain was in control during the final moments of the flight.

The inquest also heard about a conversation recorded on the cockpit voice recorder in which Capt Furniss insisted that the flight continue towards Maum after Cadet Jevens indicated he wanted to avoid Maum because of bad weather conditions.

However, Mr Judge said there was nothing unusual about this kind of order as instructors would always want to push a cadet a bit more on a military exercise.

Mr Judge also said he does not know what Capt Furniss meant when he said “bad decision now” a few seconds before the crash.

Earlier this afternoon, the inquest heard from eyewitnesses in the Cornamona area who saw the plane before it crashed.

John Kenny said it was flying so low he could see the pilot. He said the engine was fluttering. He saw the plane turn upside down and thought it was doing a manoeuvre and then heard a loud bang.

He said made his way to the scene of the crash on a quad and found the plane in pieces. He and a friend hoped someone would be alive, but they could not help anyone.

Another eyewitness Joe Walsh also said he saw the plane flying very low and the engine sounded “rough”. He heard a number of loud bangs which echoed through the valley. Then there was silence.

Minister for Defence Alan Shatter and the Furniss family are represented by barristers, but Donal Jevens, father of Cadet Jevens, is conducting his own cross-examination.

Pathologist Dr Mary Casey said both men died from multiple blunt force injuries.