Serious mechanical fault led to helicopter crash, investigators say

Helicopter Crash, Lancaster Way, Witchford,

Helicopter Crash, Lancaster Way, Witchford, - Credit: Archant

A REPORT into a fatal helicopter crash in Witchford found that both rotor blades separated from the aircraft while in flight, causing it to plummet to the ground.

Robert Crofts-Bolster, 50, of High Street, Brasted, in Kent, died in the accident which took place on January 6 last year.

The 50-year-old was on his way to Fenland Airfield in Spalding, Lincolnshire, when the crash happened, shortly before 11.30am.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch said that there were a number of factors which 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.

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

The main rotor blades separated from the helicopter and were scattered up to 500 metres away from where the craft ended up, on its roof in a field near the Lancaster Way Business Park, in Witchford.

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The report said that Mr Crofts-Bolster was an experienced pilot with almost 5,000 hours of aeroplane flying under his belt and 59 hours of helicopter flying.

He had left Manston Airport in Kent at 9.58am on the morning of the accident and headed north over London and Cambridge before entering the final leg of his journey across the Fens and into Lincolnshire.

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

According to information gathered from control towers at Cambridge and Stansted airports and the helicopters own GPS system, there were no recorded abnormalities with the engine or unusual manoeuvres from the pilot.

A maintenance check carried out 28 hours prior to the flight identified no problems with the aircraft and evidence gathered from an inquest suggested that the pilot was conscious at the moment of impact.

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