Robinson R44 Raven I, G-OUEL, 30 July 2003

Robinson R44 Raven I, G-OUEL


The helicopter departed on a VFR flight from a private site near Hawick in Scotland to route to Barton Airfield in Manchester. Initially it flew southwards at 1,500 feet amsl but as it approached hills, whose tops were reportedly covered by an area of low cloud, it turned away from the planned route and probably entered cloud. As the turn continued the helicopter accelerated, entered a rapid descent and the main rotor blades struck the tailboom. Most of the tailboom detached, the rotors virtually stopped and the helicopter impacted the ground at the bottom of a valley, fatally injuring the pilot. A number of military aircraft were operating in the area at the time of the accident but none of these could have influenced the safe progress of the flight. No signs of pre-accident malfunction of the helicopter were found, but full determination of its pre-impact serviceability was prevented by extensive post-crash fire damage. The available evidence indicated that the accident followed a main rotor blade strike on the tailboom, probably caused by excessively low rotor RPM. The control loss and low rotor RPM may have resulted from spatial disorientation and mishandling of the controls but the possibility that aircraft malfunction had contributed to the accident could not be eliminated.

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Published 10 December 2014