Authorities in the Dutch Antilles say they want to bid “a dignified farewell” to heroic Solihull pilot Robert Mansell when his body is repatriated.
The Minister of Transport for the Netherlands Antilles, Maurice Adriaens said officials wished to have a special ceremony at the airport when the 32-year-old’s body is brought home to be laid to rest, following an ongoing salvage operation.
Mr Mansell’s piloting skills saved the lives of nine Dutch passengers on board the plane, which crashed into the Caribbean Sea near the island of Bonaire in October.
He was tragically unable to escape the aircraft before it sank.
Salvage crews have spent a week working to lift the twin-engine Britten-Norman Islander plane from the sea bed onto a floating platform.
The operation was temporarily delayed when a cable broke under pressure and a replacement had to be flown in over the weekend.
On Monday the Coast Guard reported the salvage operation was experiencing further difficulties with the remote vehicle and it appeared the earliest the wreckage could be brought to the surface would be yesterday.
The plane Mr Mansell was piloting lost an engine on an island hop flight from Curacao, just three miles from its destination of Bonaire.
Eager to bring his son home, Robert’s father, Roger, who lives in Dorridge and sister Claire Mansell have spent weeks negotiating behind the scenes with authorities in Holland, the Dutch Antilles and the UK.
Meriden MP Caroline Spelman wrote to the Dutch Ambassador in London and the Minister for Transport in Holland appealing for help to recover Mr Mansell’s body.
All parties involved are said to be working together to ensure that he can be brought back home.
Mrs Spelman said: “With the anticipation of repatriation next week, this is the news that Robert’s family have been waiting for.
“The Dutch Government have acted above and beyond the call of duty, without whose generous assistance this would not have been possible.”
The Dutch Antilles are a set of Caribbean Islands, forming an autonomous part of the Dutch Kingdom.