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Passenger injured after helicopter hits wood pigeon

The incident happened as the flight from Blackpool approached Edinburgh Airport.

The helicopter was struck by a wood pigeon (Tim Goode/PA)
The helicopter was struck by a wood pigeon (Tim Goode/PA)

A helicopter passenger needed hospital treatment after the aircraft was hit by a bird which shattered the windscreen.

The man was struck by debris and suffered injuries to his face and hands.

The Bell 429 travelling from Blackpool was approaching Edinburgh Airport at a speed of 100 knots when the incident happened at 3.18pm on November 25 last year.

As he flew towards the airport the pilot noticed several birds off the left side of the helicopter which he did not consider to be a threat.

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The incident happened as the helicopter was approaching Edinburgh Airport (Lesley Martin/Edinburgh Airport/PA)

However he then saw a single bird straight ahead crossing from right to left and despite immediately banking the helicopter to the right he was unable to avoid the bird, which struck the left windscreen.

The pilot declared a mayday before successfully landing and the passenger, the only other person on board, was taken to hospital.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch report said that the Bell 429 windscreen is not designed to withstand bird strikes and the design certification requirements do not require it to do so.

It said: “A recent study by the Rotorcraft Bird Strike Working Group has recommended the introduction of bird strike protection requirements for Normal category rotorcraft to minimise the risk of damage or injury.”

The bird was killed in the impact and was found inside the passenger area.

It was identified as a wood pigeon, weighing approximately 640g.

The working group has encouraged operators to implement bird strike safety procedures for normal category rotorcraft already in service, and for newly manufactured aircraft.

These include reducing airspeed when practical as more than three out of four bird strikes (77%) occur during airspeeds greater than 80 knots and increasing altitude as soon as possible and practical.

It is also suggested that crew wear personal protective equipment consisting of a helmet and visor.

PA

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