LONDON HELICOPTER ACCIDENT - AAIB RELEASES INITIAL REPORT
25 Jan 2013
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The final moments of the accident in central London when an Agusta helicopter hit a crane on a building site are detailed in a preliminary report issued by the Air Accident Investigation Branch. The accident happened just seconds after the pilot, Capt Peter Barnes, had been cleared to divert to the Battersea London Heliport.
The accident happened on 16 January. The twin-engine Agusta 109E helicopter had flown from Redhill, south of London, to Elstree, in north London, to pick up a client. Fog had prevented the pilot from landing at Elstree so he started to return to Redhill in "VMC on top" conditions, ie clear above cloud. He asked ATC if Battersea was open and if he could divert to there.
He was asked to hold while ATC spoke to Battersea, and was then cleared to Battersea and changed frequencies. This was at 0759:18 hrs when the helicopter was 150 metres south-west of Vauxhall Bridge.
Immediately afterwards, the helicopter began a right turn and at 0759:25 it struck the crane on the south side of the River Thames, at St George Wharf, about 275 metres from Vauxhall Bridge. The AAIB report confirms that the top of the crane was immersed in mist.
The collision with the crane's jib resulted in the helicopter's rotor head and main gearbox separating from the fuselage. They landed separately. The fuselage then fell to the ground. The wreckage was consumed by a post-crash fire.
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