Pilot escapes injury after helicopter crashes into Co. Derry building, AAIB report

A pilot escaped injury when his helicopter crashed into a building in Co. Derry during the summer, an accident report published this morning has revealed.

The scene of the crash in July.
The scene of the crash in July.

The Robinson R44 II four-seater helicopter was damaged beyond economic repair when it collided with a fence and building in Maghera on July 22, 2021 at approximately 8.25pm.

Details of the incident were published by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in its November bulletin.

The 34-year-old pilot was coming into land at a private site in south Derry after having completed a short solo 20 minute flight from Dromore.

The report reveals that as the pilot came into land the the 'rotor low revolutions per minute warning horn sounded' and the helicopter 'started to yaw right and descend'.

"The pilot stated this had happened very quickly. He was aware that he was close to the tree stump and recalled that he 'overrode the governor to increase the throttle' and may also have lowered the collective, whilst manoeuvring the helicopter to touch down on the grassed area.

"As the helicopter touched down, its tail boom hit the adjacent fence, and the helicopter yawed right, turning it towards the adjacent building, which the main rotors subsequently struck before the helicopter came to a stop. The pilot, who was uninjured, shutdown the helicopter. The helicopter was damaged beyond economic repair," the accident report outlines.

The AAIB concluded: "The pilot attempted to recover the helicopter’s low rotor rpm when close to the ground but lost control of the helicopter whilst avoiding a tree stump. It was not established why the rotor rpm had decayed.

"Although the pilot had landed uneventfully at the same location before, the site had a number of obstacles which increased the risk of contact with the helicopter if a problem was encountered when close to the ground. The pilot stated that that he would look to reduce this risk in the future by reviewing his landing site selection criteria."