Helicopter blades took chunks out of a house during botched landing in Northern Ireland

An air accident investigators’ report has revealed that a tree stump almost caused a helicopter to crash.

Instead, the flailing craft only took chunks out of a house as it came in to land.

The News Letter came across the report by chance this week, though it was actually published late last year (to relatively little notice in the press).

The Robinson R44 II helicopter, made in 2007, landed in a garden in Maghera, Co Londonderry, at 8.25pm on July 22 last year.

Image of the aftermath, showing where the blades cut into the roof

There was only one person on board; they were aged 34, and only had 79 hours of flying experience (18 of which were on this kind of craft).

The pilot was considering purchasing the aircraft, and had arranged to fly it from its owner’s private site near Dromore to another private site at Maghera, where he intended to further evaluate it.

The report states: “The landing area was a grassed area measuring about 30m x 30m [about 100ft x 100ft] and was surrounded by a wooden fence of about 1.5m [5ft]. Near one corner of the grassed area was a large tree stump.”

The flight was “uneventful”, but as the pilot came in to land an alarm sounded, warning the propellor speed was low.

The ‘copter then veered quickly to the right, and as the pilot tried to steer clear of the tree stump, he “lost control”.

“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.

“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 ...

“The pilot stated he would look to reduce this risk in the future by reviewing his landing site selection criteria.”

Investigators concluded the craft had been “damaged beyond economic repair”.

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