AW109 Collided With A Crane On An Under-Construction High-Rise Building
The U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has released a report on an accident in which an AW109 helicopter was flying to the east of Battersea Heliport when it struck the jib of a crane attached to a building development at St George Wharf, at a height of approximately 700 ft in conditions of reduced meteorological visibility. The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the helicopter, and a pedestrian were fatally injured when the damaged helicopter impacted a building and adjacent roadway. At the time of the accident, it was reported that thirteen others on the ground were also injured, but the AAIB did not confirm that number.
The transcript depicts a fairly normal conversation between the pilot and Thames ATC. After climbing to 1,500 ft agl a few minutes before 0800 local time, the pilot was asked by the controller if he need an IFR transit through some fog. The pilot replied that "I have good VMC on top, that's fine."
The pilot requested vectors to Battersea Heliport, and was cleared to fly to the facility. ATC gave the pilot a contact frequency, at which point the pilot began a right turn and impacted the construction crane.
The report indicates that the pilot was advised by a fellow pilot via calls and text messages not to attempt the flight until some heavy fog had lifted, but the accident pilot said he had already started his engines. Visibility at nearby airports (London Heathrow, London City and Royal Air Force Northolt) was generally less than 2.5 miles at 0800 local time, and as low as one-half mile at London City Airport. Freezing fog was forecast for Redhill and Elstree Aerodromes, and at London Heliport until 1000 hrs.