AW139 Helicopter Crash In Norfolk ‘Shows Need For Action On Flight Safety’

Four Killed In Tragedy Near Beccles


Aviation law specialists representing injured victims and the families of those killed in air accidents across the world have said that the Norfolk helicopter crash in which four people, including Edward Haughey, Lord Ballyedmond, died is yet another tragedy which shows the need to review the safety of helicopter operations in UK airspace.
The helicopter, confirmed to be an Augusta Westland AW139, came down in a field near to the Northern Ireland peer and industrialist’s home in Gillingham near Beccles at around 19:30 GMT on Thursday (March 13th). Reports indicate that the aircraft was operated by Haughey Air Limited.
Eyewitness accounts suggested that there was fog in the area at the time of the incident and stated the helicopter crashed shortly after take-off.
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Aviation Law team represents injured passengers and the families of people killed in offshore and onshore helicopter crashes in the UK and abroad.
As well as working with personal injury solicitors at Irwin Mitchell Scotland in representing many victims of the Glasgow Clutha tragedy in November last year, the experts also act for those affected by Eurocopter crashes off the coast of Shetland in August 2013 and in the North Sea in October 2012, as well as the Augusta Westland crash into the city of London in January 2013. The team is also assisting the family of a US serviceman who was killed in the crash of the US Air Force Sikorski Pavehawk helicopter on 7 January 2014.

Expert Opinion
It is incredibly worrying to see yet another helicopter tragedy in the UK, the fourth fatal helicopter crash in the last eight months.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those involved in this latest crash, who at this stage will undoubtedly be desperate for answers as to how this incident came to occur.

"In order to gain definitive conclusions and a full picture of the events surrounding the crash, investigations will need to consider a range of factors. These will include the weather conditions at the time of the incident, any potential technical or mechanical issues and the actions taken by the crew onboard the helicopter.

"The Augusta Westland AW139 is a 15-seat helicopter and due to its size should have been carrying relevant black-box recorder equipment, such as a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder. Data from such systems should play a key role in determining what caused this tragedy.

"We hope authorities are able to work quickly and thoroughly to ensure that prompt answers can be provided in relation to this incident, with the ultimate aim that lessons can be learned which can go towards improving flight safety and preventing similar tragedies in the future.

"It is particularly tragic that this crash occurred on the same day as the release of the findings from the inquiry into a Super Puma helicopter crash in 2009 – another event which demonstrated again that helicopter safety is in the spotlight in the UK.

"This inquiry, the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision to issue a safety review on offshore crashes and this latest spate of tragedies will have had a significant impact on public perception of the safety of such aircraft and it is vital that steps are taken to rebuild this.

"We would urge the Government and aviation authorities to seriously examine the issue of helicopter safety in order to improve standards and hopefully ensure such a string of catastrophic incidents is never repeated."
Jim Morris, Partner