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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 17940
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Type:Silhouette image of generic AS55 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Aérospatiale AS 355F2 Ecureuil II
Owner/operator:Veritair Ltd OPF South Wales Police Air Support Unit
Registration: G-SAEW
MSN: 5435
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Cardiff, South Glamorgan -   United Kingdom
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Aerial patrol
Departure airport:Cardiff-Wales Airport, Rhoose (CWL/EGFF)
Destination airport:Cardiff-Wales Airport, Rhoose (CWL/EGFF)
Investigating agency: AAIB
On the evening of 21-4-2000, the Twin Squirrel helicopter was operating in the Cardiff area on behalf of the South Wales and Gwent Police forces. It was based at Cardiff Heliport, from where it was normally available on call for 18 hours per day. The company operating the helicopter employed 5 pilots who regularly flew this aircraft, the sole example of the type operated by this company.

The pilot reported for duty at 17:00 hours, and in response to a call out, was airborne on his first flight of the evening at 18:55 hours. There were two qualified police observers on board. The helicopter lifted off from the heliport, flew north for 10 minutes and then spent some 10 to 20 minutes on task.

While on task the helicopter was mainly in the hover and the pilot reported that it responded normally to all control inputs. When the first task was completed the helicopter flew south back towards the heliport and was diverted to a second task which involved hovering at 500 to 600 feet agl over a residential area near the M4 motorway. The visibility was good with a last reported surface wind of 200 degrees/12 knots. Sunset was at 19:10 hours and daylight was fading, but the pilot was still able to fly by visual reference.

The helicopter had been hovering in the area for about 10 to 15 minutes, facing in a south-westerly direction, when it suddenly made an uncommanded yaw to the left through some 180 degrees. The pilot immediately applied full right yaw pedal to counter this yaw. However, although the helicopter stabilised for a moment, it then yawed more rapidly to the left. At this time he called out to the two observers on board to warn them of a problem with the helicopter. He partially lowered the collective lever in an attempt to regain control and applied some forward cyclic to gain forward motion and airspeed, but the helicopter then entered a steeply spiralling/yawing descent to the left.

The pilot realised that he would not be able to recover full control of the helicopter and abandoned his attempt to fly out of the situation. He concentrated on keeping the helicopter as level as possible whilst looking out through the right side window for visual reference, since he found the forward view too confusing due to the rapid yawing motion. He adjusted collective to achieve what he judged to be the best combination of rate of descent against yaw, and when he caught sight of the surface in his peripheral vision he pulled the collective lever fully up to cushion the impact.

The helicopter came to rest embedded in the roof of a house, at 9 Coryton Drive, having broken through the rafters and settled in a right side low attitude. After the impact, the pilot was unable to reach the engine fuel controls on the overhead panel until he had unstrapped himself from his seat.

However, when he was able to reach the speed select and emergency fuel shut off levers he could not move them due to impact induced distortion of the overhead panel. He was able to activate both fire extinguishers and to turn the battery switches OFF. The observer in the front left seat escaped through his door on the left side of the helicopter and the rear seat observer climbed past the pilot and exited through the same door; the pilot then followed. The three occupants, all of whom were wearing protective helmets, were uninjured and later used a ladder to climb down from the roof.

There were a large number of witnesses to the accident. They all described seeing the helicopter hovering for some time above the houses and then swinging suddenly to its left, spinning around and descending. A video recording taken by one witness showed the helicopter in an apparently normal hover some 2 minutes before the accident.

Damage sustained to airframe: Per the AAIB report "Helicopter severely damaged". As a result, the registration G-SAEW was cancelled by the CAA on 14-8-2000 as "destroyed"


1. AAIB:
2. CAA:

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


Revision history:

17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
15-Dec-2012 15:01 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
15-Dec-2012 15:05 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
25-May-2013 00:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
09-Jul-2014 01:54 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
04-Aug-2014 14:25 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Nature, Narrative]
25-Oct-2015 11:58 Aerossurance Updated [Nature, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
08-Jul-2016 11:28 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
08-Jul-2016 11:29 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
08-Jul-2016 11:30 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
08-Jul-2016 11:33 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
25-Sep-2016 17:40 Aerossurance Updated [Location]
21-Apr-2021 07:21 Aerossurance Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Embed code, Narrative]

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