Helicopter pilot death was an accident, an inquest rules

A Robinson R22 helicopter

A Robinson R22 helicopter - Credit: Archant

AN INQUEST has ruled that the death of an experienced pilot, killed when his helicopter plummeted into fields at Witchford, was accidental.

The pilot died when his two seater helicopter suffered a fatal structural failure and crash-landed on its roof in a field near the Lancaster Way Business Park, an inquest heard.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that both rotor blades had separated from the aircraft while in flight causing it to crash to the ground on January 6 last year.

Investigators said there were a number of factors that could have caused the blades to separate from the helicopter including sudden movement by the pilot to avoid birds, turbulence, engine failure or the low temperatures.

They concluded, however, that there was insufficient evidence to say for definite what caused the blades to come free.

The 50 year old pilot was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wisbech coroner William Morris ruled that the death of Robert Crofts-Bolster, of Brasted, Kent was accidental.

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Mr Crofts-Bolster was an experienced pilot and had nearly 5,000 flying hours under his belt.

He was both a flight instructor and examiner.

At the time of the crash he was flying a Robinson R22 helicopter in good weather on a route from Manston Airport, Kent, to Fenland Airfield, near Spalding, Lincolnshire.

He was last heard on radio at 11.18am confirming his altitude but was lost from radar at 11.25am, crashing down seconds later.

A maintenance check carried out 28 hours prior to the flight identified no problems with the aircraft.

The Robinson R22 is a two-bladed, single engine, light utility helicopter which has been popular as a primary rotorcraft trainer around the world since coming into production in 1979.

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