London Helicopter Crash - was it Pilot Error?
By londononline | Sunday, February 10, 2013, 12:36
Nearly a month after the London helicopter crash in Vauxhall repairs to the damaged roads and crane is to be completed and work on the tower at St George Wharf is due to resume. On the 16 January 2013 at 7. 59 a.m. a commercial helicopter, an Agusta A109E (G-CRST), flown by a 50-year old pilot, hit a crane at One, St George Wharf in Vauxhall. The pilot had been attempting to land at the Battersea Heliport . Wreckage was strewn over a wide area and several buildings were damaged. Both the pilot and 39-year old Mathew Wood of Sutton, who was walking to work on Wandsworth Road, were killed. Several other people were injured. Mr. Wood's funeral is to be held on 15th February at North East Surrey Crematorium. The funeral of the pilot, Peter Barnes took place on Friday (8 February) at Reading Minster. Sky News reports said that 500 atttended the funeral, however the Professional Pilots Rumour Network (PPRuNe) reported 800 family, friends and pilots as being there, in what was described as "a media circus." The coffin was carried into the church by fellow pilots Paul Barham, Gary Butcher, David Lomas, Shaun Tinckler-Rose, Quentin Smith and Eric Swaffer. On the 1st February the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) released its initial report into the helicopter crash.The report can be read on the AAIB's website here . The campaign group Helicopter Noise Coalition (HNC) has released its response to the CAA report. They noted two things of concern; the pilot had taken off knowing it was likely he would not be able to retain sight with the ground at a height that was considered safe by the CAA and the pilot read and sent many text messages during the course of the flight, which is against the law for road users although not for pilots.
The HNC reports says: " Despite the warnings of low cloud by another pilot and the customer, the pilot chose to fly, knowing full well that he would be breaking the.....rule [to remain clear of cloud, determine his flight path with reference to the surface and keep clear of obstructions]. This resulted in the death of an innocent person and many injuries, as well as the death of the pilot who made the mistake".
Mathew Wood's family are asking people to donate to the Cats Protection League "in honour of his love for his two cats Skunk and Evie". See Surrey Comet story here.