No malfunction found in Ballyedmond helicopter crash probe

Lord Ballyedmond
Lord Ballyedmond

No technical malfunction which might account for the helicopter crash which killed Tory peer Lord Ballyedmond and three others has been identified to date, air accident investigators have said.

Dense fog had developed on the night of March 13 when the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter crashed near Gillingham Hall in Norfolk, a special bulletin from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

The bulletin concluded: “AAIB investigation to date has not identified any technical malfunction which might account for the accident.

“The investigation continues, with the aim of identifying any technical matters of relevance, as well as focusing on flight in degraded visual environments.”

The report said the helicopter had been scheduled to leave Gillingham Hall for Coventry Airport at 6.30pm but the passengers had not been ready to depart until around 7.20pm.

The report went on: “By this time, night had fallen and dense fog had developed; witnesses described visibility in the order of tens of metres.”

The pilots were captain Carl Dickerson, 36, and co-pilot Lee Hoyle, while Lord Ballyedmond, 70, who was Northern Ireland’s richest man and Declan Small, who worked for the peer, were the passengers.

Today’s report said the helicopter lifted into a hover at 7.24pm and then hover-taxied to the middle of the paddock in which the helipad was sited. The captain, who was the pilot flying, briefed that he would climb vertically from the hover before setting course.