Vauxhall helicopter crash pilot 'broke rules' by flying into cloud

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By Simon Harris: Political Correspondent

An official report into the Vauxhall helicopter crash reveals the pilot broke the rules by flying into cloud.

The pilot, Pete Barnes and a pedestrian, Matthew Wood, were both killed when the helicopter hit a crane on top of a construction site in January 2013.

The crane the helicopter crashed into Credit: ITV News

Captain Barnes was flying from Redhill in Surrey to Elstree in Hertfordshire to pick up a passenger when he was forced to abort the trip because of freezing fog.

At one point in the flight he sent a text to the passenger saying: 'I'm coming anyway will land in a field if I have to'

  • Capt Barnes was attempting to divert to Battersea Heliport when his Augusta 109 crashed into the jib of the crane at 700 feet above the Thames

  • The Air Accidents Investigation Branch says he may have been distracted as he switched frequencies on his radio

The crash site in Vauxhall Credit: PA

The AAIB report concluded:

The pilot did not see the crane or saw it too late to take effective avoiding action.

AAIB report

Capt Barnes was a highly experienced commercial pilot who flew a helicopter in the Bond movie Die Another Day.

Phil Roberts of the Civil Aviation Authority said Capt Barnes appeared to have broken official flying regulations known as the Air Navigation Order.

From what the report indicates he was not flying in compliance with the criteria which is remain clear of cloud.

Phil Roberts, Civil Aviation Authority