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Helicopter crash Scotland: Pilot prosecuted. VERDICT

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Helicopter crash Scotland: Pilot prosecuted. VERDICT

Old 13th Mar 2004, 20:30
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I was told once that wire cutters were not that popular in the UK as all the overhead wires are shown on charts , is this the case ? , is so could not something linked to the gps give a warning if you are flying towards wires at the right ( wrong ) altitude ?. Dornier also were working on a fwd looking array ( laser based I think ) . I saw the Amphitech at the show a couple of years ago and have a few observations . It needs to be as far forward as possible , many Helicopters already have fwd c of g problems this will make it worse. If it is placed far fwd it will shadow the Flir or searchlight that often needs to be in that position. Bristol ( Magellan ) have published some impressive stats showing that wire cutters do save lives , an interesting anecdote , I was told once that the wire cutter was developed after the antenna on a Canadian Forces helicopter had managed to cut a wire that would otherwise have doomed the helicopter.
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Old 13th Mar 2004, 23:48
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Let's face it the real issue here is what should one be doing to avoid flying into wires at 120ft agl - in this case reportedly whilst making a precautionary landing. The wires obviously weren't seen in time, which was probably due to excessive speed for the visibility, which was presumably pretty poor.

The chances are that when the weather is very poor VMC at low level in open countryside, one is often not precisely sure of position, especially as the track has usually dodged around the worst weather, apart from which glances at the chart are going to be just that. Wires have to be presumed to be everywhere, and descent below 300ft or so made only when one is at a speed at which any obstacle can be seen early enough to avoid. And scan for pylons!

It may well have been raining, and from recollection of my Jet Ranger time you've either got to be doing 50kts plus to flow the water off the screen, or really slow. Anything in between you're peering through the droplets. Wipers are a godsend in such conditions, dramatically improving visibility when you really need it. Where they can be fitted, perhaps a better option than cutters.

We've all been there, and at risk, but let's make sure we are reminded of the important lessons!
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 08:28
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And I don't think anyone has yet invented wire cutters for the tail........which is how this one happened.
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Old 26th Jan 2005, 18:15
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Crash pilot accused of negligence


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4210009.stm
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Old 26th Jan 2005, 18:46
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just out of curiosity, what is the non-military SOP's for crossing wires? Be interested to know if it is a training issue amongst the civilian fraternity seeing as flying at 50' on a regular basis is not a civilian skill.
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Old 26th Jan 2005, 22:12
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I was taught to fly over the pylons - that way you're clear of the wires themselves, plus any thinner (and hence less visible) support wires strung between the tops of the pylons.
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Old 27th Jan 2005, 12:42
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Is that a UK wide teaching or just your flight school? Thats what we do in the military and at a 45 degree angle to give you an escape option from enemy fire or power problems etc. etc.
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Old 27th Jan 2005, 12:52
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Actually, I learnt that on the Robinson Safety Course I did in 1999 in Sydney, just after getting my PPL.

It's common, but not common enough, methinks - something simple, but effective.
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Old 27th Jan 2005, 13:31
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Yup, also learned that on the RSC., although I'm sure it had already been mentioned by at least one instructor before that.

It's OK for pylons but I guess it's more of a problem for those smaller wires where the poles are harder to see. As part of any recce I'm always chanting: " . . . poles and cables, poles and cables . . ."
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Old 27th Jan 2005, 13:49
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I got taught from the very start to fly over the pylons, to reduce the risk of wire strikes, also to fly over the towers/pylons on bridges for the same reason.
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Old 31st Jan 2005, 16:36
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Pilot prosecution

Extract from BBC website;-


A pilot has gone on trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court charged with causing a helicopter accident in Midlothian nearly two years ago.
Iain Grindlay, 49, is accused of acting negligently or recklessly in April 2003.

The helicopter was being used by the Liberal Democrats during the Scottish parliamentary election campaign at the time of the alleged incident.

Mr Grindlay, from Midlothian, pleaded not guilty.

The court heard that party leader Jim Wallace and his wife were on board as the helicopter flew to various locations on the campaign trail.

Lib Dem press officer David Webster told the court that at one stage of the flight, the aircraft was skimming over the sea when the pilot told him they were flying at 20 feet.

At that point, he and the Wallaces were enjoying the experience.

After Mr and Mrs Wallace were dropped off, he said, he began the return trip with the pilot and steward, Roderick Grindlay.

After passing Edinburgh, Mr Webster said the pilot pointed out the disused Waverley railway line and added that he knew it was Liberal Democrat policy to have it re-opened.

Horizontal

"He said he would take me down to show me the amount of work that would need to be done," said Mr Webster.

The helicopter went down and began going from left to right, he said, and then he was almost horizontal to the ground and the hills were above the aircraft.

But, he added, the gentle turns "evolved into dramatic and frequent turns'' and the helicopter began to sway violently.

It was obvious we were going to crash

Witness David Webster

"I heard the pilot say 'Oh, No' and I think there was terror in his voice," said Mr Webster.

Mr Webster said he heard Roderick Grindlay say: "Iain, stop it. Get us down."

"It was at that point I realised we were in trouble," said Mr Webster.

''It was obvious we were going to crash."

The helicopter hit the ground with an enormous shudder, said Mr Webster.

He managed to get out, but the pilot was having difficulty.

Pilot bleeding

He and Roderick went back and pulled Mr Grindlay from the aircraft, but the pilot was bleeding from the head and kept collapsing every two or three steps.

While waiting for the emergency services, he said, Mr Grindlay said: "Sorry.

"If you tell them I was p***ing about, I will lose my licence and insurance."

He said Mr Grindlay told him he would say he was trying to avoid a hailstorm but when Mr Webster was asked in court if there had been one, he said 'no.'

The trial continues.
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Old 1st Feb 2005, 12:42
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Oh dear dear me......................
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Old 1st Feb 2005, 12:52
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""If you tell them I was p***ing about, I will lose my licence and insurance." "

Ask and ye shall receive............
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Old 1st Feb 2005, 14:35
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"The helicopter went down and began going from left to right, he said, and then he was almost horizontal to the ground and the hills were above the aircraft."


Generally I prefer "horizontal to the ground", safer than perpendicular (unless you're upside down)
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Old 1st Feb 2005, 18:40
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Z.

Accident report at

http://www.aaib.gov.uk/publications/...ell_027745.cfm

V.
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Old 1st Feb 2005, 19:14
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Presumably if found guilty, then the AAIB report will have to be amended
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Old 1st Feb 2005, 20:25
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PPrune Radar, why would the AAIB have to amend their report?

All the AAIB do is report the facts as known and make recommendations of a technical or operational nature. They do not apportion blame. That is up to the court.
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Old 1st Feb 2005, 22:58
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Extract from BBC website today;-

A pilot whose helicopter crashed in Midlothian has told a court he had to make a precautionary landing because his destination was covered in cloud.
Iain Grindlay, 49, from Pathhead, Midlothian, said he had been "very relaxed" about landing in a valley - until he saw power lines.

He told Edinburgh Sheriff Court how he tried to avoid the cables and described the "euphoria" of surviving the crash.
The pilot denies endangering the safety of the helicopter and its passengers. He also denies endangering people and property in the valley on 30 April last year.

Mr Grindlay told his trial that he had taken Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace and his wife to a number of pre-election photo-shoots during the day.
After leaving the Wallaces in Aberdeen, the pilot headed for the helicopter base at Oxenfoord Castle in East Lothian with his brother Roderick and Liberal Democrat campaign worker David Webster on board.

Mr Grindlay said he followed a disused railway line because the weather prevented him from following his normal route from Edinburgh Airport.
He told the court that helicopters were not allowed to fly through cloud and that the pilot had to be able to see the ground at all times.

Within three miles of Oxenfoord, he said, he saw his landing site was completely covered in cloud and there was no visibility.
"I decided to make a precautionary landing and wait until the weather cleared," he said.

He decided to land in a field close to where his operation had been based for three years.
"I was very relaxed. This was nothing exciting," said Mr Grindlay.

"All of a sudden I saw these wires and immediately tried to avoid them. I pulled the nose of the helicopter up and levelled off.
"I believed I had missed the wires until I heard a clunk. It was not a sound I had heard before."


He said that he realised that there was a problem with the tail rotor.
"I was very conscious of keeping it level," he said.
"I could see the ground coming up, the rate of descent was arrested.
"As it touched down I felt great and then there was this almighty jolt."

He said he had been knocked unconscious after the helicopter hit the ground "very, very hard".
He was pulled from the aircraft by his brother and Mr Webster, who were happy and excited.
"We were happy to be alive, it was a sense of euphoria," he said.

Mr Grindlay, the managing director and chief pilot of Lothian Helicopters, said he had been flying since 1985 and had logged 4,500 flying hours.

The trial continues.
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Old 2nd Feb 2005, 17:13
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3rd Day of Trial - Extract from BBC website

Headline - Crash pilot did 'remarkable job'

The pilot of a helicopter that crashed after taking the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader on a campaign trip did "a remarkable job", a court has heard.
Captain Alistair Gwilt, an independent helicopter expert, said Iain Grindlay deserved a "pat on the back" for his handling of a crash landing.
Mr Gwilt was giving evidence for the defence at the trial of Mr Grindlay.

Mr Grindlay is charged with endangering the safety of the helicopter and its passengers, which he denies. He also denies endangering people and property in the valley near the village of Pathhead.
The accident happened on 30 April, 2003, the day before polling in the Scottish Parliament election. The aircraft was being used by the Liberal Democrats during the Scottish parliamentary election campaign at the time.
Mr Grindlay had flown the Scottish party leader Jim Wallace and his wife to a number of pre-election photo-shoots during the day.

Mr Gwilt, 47, told the jury at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday he that rated Mr Grindlay's flying ability highly.
He said: "Iain had always impressed upon me his skill at flying. He is very diligent in what he does, professional and courteous".

Commenting on an allegation that the pilot flew the helicopter at 20ft above the sea to replicate the opening sequence of the 1980s TV programme 'Magnum', Mr Gwilt said there had been no danger to the passengers, even at that height.

In earlier evidence, Mr Grindlay had told the court he had decided to make a precautionary landing in the field because he could not see his landing site at Oxenfoord because of low cloud and showers.
On his approach to the site, his tail rotor caught the earth wire on the pylons. He claimed he had only seen the wires at the last minute.

Mr Gwilt said he had flown the route taken by Mr Grindlay after the accident, but said he had not told him about the power line.
He said: "It was only about half a mile from landing site that I saw the pylons and the wires themselves and that was on a clear day". The wires, he added, "blended" into the background.

"It was a last-minute awareness problem for Captain Grindlay," he said.
"Yes, he came into contact, but he did his best to avoid them.
"It is just, in my eyes, an accident like bumping your car in a supermarket car park. It is just unfortunate it happened".

Asked by John Campbell, QC, for the defence, how he regarded Mr Grindlay's actions, Mr Gwilt said: "Admirably. A pat on the back. It appears to be a crash, but it was a heavy landing."
"He has carried out a remarkable job as I would expect."




The trial was adjourned until Thursday.


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Al is a former AAC display pilot, current TA pilot, Instructor, Examiner and ........ contributor to Rotorheads.

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Old 2nd Feb 2005, 17:32
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Mr Gwilt, 47, .........
47!
I thought he was much older.

Hi Al.
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