Glasgow & West Scotland

Airport helipad extended after helicopter collision

Cumbernauld Airport Image copyright Google
Image caption The incident happened at Cumbernauld Airport in May

A helipad has been extended at a small airport after a collision between two helicopters during a take-off.

No-one was injured when the pilot of a Robinson R44 helicopter (G-CTFL) reversed into another of the same model (G-HYND) at Cumbernauld Airport.

The AAIB said safety instructions had been revised after the incident in May.

The pilot, who was carrying two passengers, was taking off for a lesson but was unaware another helicopter, had landed behind him.

It had three passengers on board and was shutting down after a sightseeing trip.

Collision

The AAIB said the pilot of G-CTFL was not alerted that G-HYND had parked on grass behind him and felt he was restricted by other aircraft on the field, including an R22 helicopter.

The AAIB report said: "After lifting to hover, the pilot decided to move rearwards and then taxi behind the R22.

"He did not turn his helicopter to check that the area to his rear was clear before reversing, because of the proximity of the R22 on his right and because he did not wish to turn his tail left towards the building, where some spectators had assembled.

"The main rotor blades of G-HYND were still turning slowly and, as G-CTFL approached, one of them struck the engine housing of the hovering helicopter."

After the collision the tail of the G-CTFL helicopter struck the ground.

Since the incident, the helipad has been extended, as has a parking area for helicopters.

'Startle effect'

A mirror has been installed on a hangar to assist pilots checking behind them and the operator has banned pilots from reversing from the helipad.

The AAIB said: "It is likely that the pilot of G-CTFL was startled by the unexpected collision with the other helicopter.

"The 'startle effect' is likely to have impaired his ability to comprehend the situation and also his psychomotor skills, leading to his loss of control.

"When the helicopter operator's employees responded to the accident they did not take any firefighting equipment to the scene, so it was fortuitous that there was no outbreak of fire before all the helicopters' occupants escaped.

"As a result, emergency response procedures have been changed, but this accident highlights the need to regularly review such procedures."

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