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Gillingham helicopter crash: Investigation finds no “technical malfunctions”

Scene of the Helicopter crash at Gillingham, Norfolk.

Scene of the Helicopter crash at Gillingham, Norfolk.

©Archant 2014

An investigation into the Gillingham helicopter crash which claimed the lives of four people has so far concluded that there were no technical malfunctions.

The AgustaWestland AW139 was taking off from Gillingham Hall, near Beccles, when it crashed into a field on March 13, killing Lord Ballyedmond - Edward Haughey - Declan Small, Captain Carl Dickerson and Captain Lee Hoyle.

In a report published by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, investigators have revealed that they have not identified any technical malfunctions which could account for the accident.

The report confirms that the helicopter took off from Gillingham Hall and was heading for Coventry Airport. By the time it took off a “dense fog” had developed; with witnesses describing the visibility “in the order of tens of metres.”

The report said the helicopter climbed to 125ft above ground level before it “pitched aggressively nose-down” towards the ground, crashing about 420m from the take off point.

“In the final few seconds of the flight the co-pilot made two verbal prompts regarding pitch attitude to the commander,” the report said.

“The helicopter struck the ground in a gently rising field immediately ahead of a row of rolled hay bales approximately 420m from the take off point. There was no evidence that the helicopter had made contact with any other object prior to this point.

“The first ground marks, made by the lower nose structure of the helicopter and the nose wheels, indicated that the landing gear was down.

“The distribution of wreckage indicated that, immediately after the main rotor blades struck the ground, the helicopter became airborne again and rotated clockwise about the main rotor head before striking the ground 45m beyond the first ground mark.

“The helicopter came to rest upright 63m from the initial impact point.”

The initial examination confirmed that both engines had been operating during the impact sequence.

Further investigations will continue.

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