Lancashire

Family calls for Blackpool helicopter crash inquiry

Helicopter wreckage
Image caption The inquest jury returned a narrative verdict on the crash

The family of a pilot killed in a helicopter crash said his death raised unanswered questions.

Steven Lewis, 38, and passenger Philip Gray, 45, died 18 months ago when their helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from Blackpool airport.

On Tuesday, the inquest jury's narrative verdict said it could not state what sequence of events "caused the loss of usable engine power".

Solicitors for Mr Lewis's family say a further investigation is needed.

Former RAF pilot Jim Morris, of solicitors Irwing Mitchell, said an investigation was vital to prevent a similar tragedy in future.

"We're not aware they [the helicopter's manufacturers Schweizer Aircraft Corporation] did any specific testing of their aircraft to try and replicate this accident," he said.

Mr Morris added: "So we would hope following the accident investigation and the jury verdict in Tuesday's inquest, that they will endeavour to conduct further investigations."

Image caption Mr Lewis had been taking a student on a training flight

Mr Lewis from Rainhill, who had been instructing student Mr Gray, 45, of Mawdesley, near Chorley, Lancashire, made a mayday call 20 minutes into the training flight from Blackpool Airport.

The Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) said in its report last year that despite the mayday Mr Lewis, from Merseyside, sounded calm.

The report found the most likely cause of the crash was "a loss of control during an attempted forced landing downwind".

The Schweizer 269C crashed on the east bank of the River Wyre, near Stalmine, shortly after sending the mayday signal as it flew over Poulton-le-Fylde at about 1210 BST on 22 September 2009.

Nobody from the helicopter's manufacturers Schweizer Aircraft Corporation based in New York, USA, was available for comment.

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