Helicopter crash: “We don’t know whether there was a problem with the aircraft”

11:40 16 January 2013

The fallen helicopter is understood to be an AgustaWestland 109 (AW109) Power - described by its maker as a “versatile” aircraft used in commercial and military markets.

The light-weight, twin engine helicopter has eight seats and is used for executive transport, offshore and emergency medical services, as well as surveillance and patrol missions for police forces, its manufacturer AgustaWestland says.

The aircraft is certified for single pilot use and is allowed to perform assisted take-offs from elevated helipads, that is, helipads raised from the ground.

It has a large passenger cabin with two large rear windows.

With the rotors turning, the helicopter is 13.04 metres long and 3.5 metres high. Its maximum cruise speed is 177 miles (285 kilometres) per hour.

Chris Yates, an independent aviation expert, told Sky News: “Helicopters are not supposed to come within 500 feet of any structure such as a high-rise building, so we don’t know what caused the pilot to get quite so close.

“We don’t know the circumstances he was operating in at the time - whether there was a problem with the helicopter itself, whether he misread his instructions or received false instructions from air traffic control.”

AgustaWestland is an Anglo-Italian multinational helicopter design and manufacturing company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

The company has offices and plants worldwide, including its main UK office in Farnborough, Hampshire and a plant in Yeovil, Somerset.

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