Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Ambulance drama 'down to cables'

A helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing after its blades got caught in overhead cables

An air ambulance was forced into an emergency landing after its blades got caught in overhead cables as it flew in for a roadside pick-up.

The helicopter was close to touchdown at a field in Co Tipperary when the pilot lost control, as an ill elderly patient waited to be airlifted to hospital.

An accident report into the incident near Borrisoleigh last year found the pilot was forced into a "heavy" landing. The helicopter was so badly damaged, the patient had to be taken to Limerick Regional Hospital by road.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) has published its final report into the accident, which happened shortly after 1pm on June 19, 2012.

It cited an eyewitness report from a garda, who was on traffic control duty near the scene at the Currabaha crossroads.

He said he heard a loud bang as the helicopter struck electrical wires as it approached and "came down on its belly".

"The pilot did some job because the back rudder started to spring up and down, moving before or when it hit the ground, I'm not sure," the garda told investigators. "He did seem to lose control but, thankfully, he did some job to land it."

The garda added that everything seemed fine on approach until the helicopter hit the cable, causing it to shake.

Three people were on board the helicopter, including the pilot, an Air Corps crew member and an advanced paramedic.

According to the report, the weather had been good as the air ambulance made the 20-minute journey from base at Custume Barracks in Athlone to the pickup near the Currabaha crossroads. But the pilot did not see the cables until it was too late to avoid them.

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