Sat, Apr 16, 2005
Was "Probably Under The Influence Of Alcohol" At Time Of 2002
A British military investigation into the crash of a Gazelle
helicopter off the shores of Northern Ireland three years was
The aircraft went down near Ballykelly in July, 2002. The
British Army report found the pilot was "disorientated due to a
lack of attention to flight instruments." Further, investigators
said the pilot was distracted, fatigued and "probably under the
influence of alcohol," according to the BBC, which obtained a copy
of the report.
The Gazelle was found in shallow water about 500 yards from
shore early on the morning of July 19th, 2002. Investigators said
the pilot and a passenger -- dressed in civilian clothes -- had
taken off without permission or any sort of pre-flight briefing.
Both were thrown clear of the wreckage while still strapped in
their seats, according to investigators. The passenger suffered
serious back injuries and a broken leg. Both men swam to shore,
where the pilot went to a nearby farmhouse and called for help.
The report said the unnamed pilot admitted he'd had a glass or
two of wine less than four hours before the mishap. The British
Army has a ten-hour bottle-to-throttle rule.
"I can confirm that a pilot was court-martialed and disciplined
as a result of this incident," said a British military spokesman,
quoted by the Belfast Telegraph. "The pilot concerned was
permanently grounded and banned."
But that may not be the end of it. A minister of the Northern
Ireland Parliament, Gregory Campbell, who'd been critical of delays
in the investigation, told the Telegraph, "It is my intention to
pursue this matter, as, given the conclusions and what could have
happened in the Limavady/Ballykelly area if the aircraft had come
down in a populated area, it is imperative that every possible step
is taken to prevent any reoccurrence."
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