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Kent Air Ambulance pilot cleared

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Kent Air Ambulance pilot cleared

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Old 26th Feb 2004, 09:44
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Kent Air Ambulance pilot cleared

Online report
999 helicopter pilot cleared over death crash Feb 25 2004


A WOMAN has won a High Court battle to clear the name of her husband who died when his air ambulance helicopter smashed into power cables.

Following an inconclusive inquest into the crash, Linda Budden, 51, of Hollow Lane, Dormansland, went to Manchester High Court to prove her husband Graham had played no part in the accident which claimed his life and the lives of two paramedics in July 1998.

Mr Budden was 40 when the Kent Air Ambulance helicopter he was flying made a sudden turn and flew down a valley where it collided with an electricity cable. The helicopter smashed to the ground and exploded, leaving no evidence of the accident's cause.

An investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Board showed the accident was caused either by a mechanical fault or because Mr Budden had been deliberately low flying.

Mrs Budden said: "I took it to court to show that Graham acted in the way he did because there was something wrong. I did it for the children so they could feel proud of their dad."

During the case, no evidence emerged to support the low-flying theory.

Eye witnesses, who saw the helicopter on a regular basis, said it was behaving oddly and making strange sounds.

And expert witnesses said there were several possible aircraft malfunctions that could have caused the pilot to divert.

Describing the moment she learned of her husband's death, Mrs Budden said: "It was such a shock. We were watching the BBC nine o'clock news and we saw the Kent Air Ambulance come up. I was devastated and could not believe it. It was unusual he had not phoned to say he was running late. My children, then aged 13 and 16, were watching the television with me. A minute later the police turned up on the doorstep."

She celebrated last Wednesday's judgement with her children, Gemma, 21, and Kirk, 19, and said: "It has been a difficult six years for us. Not only losing a husband and a father to my two children but also having this element of doubt hanging over us over who was to blame for the accident. I don't know how to describe it. I am really relieved it is over."
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Old 26th Feb 2004, 20:48
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FL,

Thanks for the post. I am curious to know what court case was taken to prove the pilot was not involved in low flying - was it some sort of judicial review of the coroner's verdict or of the AAIB report or what??
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Old 27th Feb 2004, 02:19
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Did the court actually state that the pilot was not to blame, or that it was still inconclusive. Wreckage left little to identify the cause.

Is there a link to the result?
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Old 27th Feb 2004, 04:43
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Heres the AAIB report if it helps?

http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/group...ty_500724.hcsp
 
Old 27th Feb 2004, 05:31
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I wasn't involved in the case. I came across the story while Googling for something else.

Link




That link doesn't seem to work at the moment. I think I copied it all, but you can check by going to 'Surrey online', and the East Grinstead section. (EG's on the Surrey/Kent border).

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 27th Feb 2004 at 07:06.
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Old 2nd Mar 2004, 16:49
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To date, I've found out the following:

The pilot's widow sued Kent Air Ambulance (in practice, its insurers) under employers' liability legislation, alleging the crash was caused by mechanical failure, and claiming damages for herself and on behalf of her children.
Kent AA/insurers denied the claim, arguing no evidence of mechanical failure so it must have been pilot error.
The lady won.

The case was heard at the High Court in Liverpool, not Manchester as per the report. (Venue changed day before the case started.)

I hope to find out more very soon, and shall post again when I do.


Tudor

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 2nd Mar 2004 at 20:53.
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Old 2nd Mar 2004, 19:38
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So now it's mechanical failure!
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 08:49
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Flying Lawyer.

Not quite the case as you have put it.

The prosecution said that a mechanical problem had occurred to the aircraft which forced the pilot to have to fly up the valley.

The case for the defence was that a mechanical problem could not be ruled out, but that no matter what the mechanical problem was, it would not have forced the pilot to have to fly up the valley.

I believe the defence is trying to appeal the decision.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 09:39
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Thanks for the correction, tbc.

I picked up the information from a CPL friend, not a lawyer, over a very enjoyable Sunday lunch with plenty of wine. He was flying and I wasn't, so the mistake is more likely to be mine than his.

I'm trying to get hold of a copy of the judge's decision and shall post a summary if/when I do.


=============

BTW, Rendezvous St Lucia again this year?
We tried Antigua - better beaches, but preferred St Lucia.

Tudor
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 02:42
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Tudor,

It wasn't JJ was it?

The judge's 'hand down' runs to a considerable number of pages which having read once I am not keen to read again on the grounds that I would rather read the Sun newspaper as it is more in touch with reality.

That is a personal opinion you understand.

St Lucia was better than Barbados too - thinking of where to go this year and could try somewhere hot again.

Appearing on-line at a computer near you maybe!!
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Old 5th Mar 2004, 01:00
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Just in case anyone reading the Caribbean banter thinks tbc and FL have gone barking mad, the background's in this thread -

Link
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Old 6th Mar 2004, 16:47
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Heliport,

I don't think tbc has gone mad...
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