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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 181704
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Type:Silhouette image of generic AS55 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Aérospatiale AS 355F1 Twin Squirrel
Owner/operator:McAlpine Helicopters Ltd
Registration: G-BKIH
MSN: 5246
Fatalities:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Swalcliffe, near Banbury, Oxfordshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Pangbourne, Berkshire
Destination airport:Alton Towers, near Uttoxeter, Staffordhshire
Investigating agency: AAIB
Aircraft destroyed 8/4/1986 when crashed due to engine failure at Swalcliffe near Banbury, Oxfordshire, killing all six persons on board (pilot and five passengers). According to the following extract from the official AAIB report into the accident:

"The helicopter took off from Hayes heliport at 08:20 hours and flew via Marlow, Buckinghamshire, to a landing site at Pangbourne, Berkshire, where the five passengers were embarked. The planned destination for the flight was Alton Towers near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, routeing via the Oxford and Coventry NDBs (Non-Directional Beacons). The pilot obtained initial clearance from the ATC at RAF Benson to take off and climb to 2,400 feet.

The pilot flew in IMC conditions until it was overhead the Oxford NDB at 2,500 feet. At 09:05 hours the pilot transmitted a distress call to RAF Upper Heyford, saying that he had suffered an engine failure. After repeating the call, all further communication from the helicopter was lost.

The helicopter was heard by several people in the village of Swancliffe, and was seen by three witnesses emerging from the low cloud base of 100-200 feet in a normal attitude but descending rapidly. Some witnesses also report hearing unusual noises from the helicopter, such as the grinding of gears and the low frequency 'swishing' of the main rotor blades. The helicopter then descended almost vertically into a cultivated field located at the northern edge of Swalcliffe,

As soon as the main rotor stuck the ground, the helicopter was 'pole vaulted' to the left, snapping off the tail boom, which came to rest alongside the main fuselage. All six occupants were killed on impact. There was a fire almost immediately on impact. Those who were first on the scene were prevented from rendering assistance by the severity of the fire. Appliances from Banbury fire station arrived within 12 minutes of the accident, and extinguished the fire with foam and water."

Damage to airframe: Per the AAIB report, damage confirmed as "aircraft destroyed". Strangely, however, G-BKIH (a "destroyed" airframe) was re-registered on 17/4/1986, nine days after the accident to a new owner! It was re-registered to Fellowrate Ltd of London from 17/4/1986 (presumably for insurance/salvage purposes) and the registration G-BKIH was not finally cancelled until 20/12/1990 - over four years later.


1. AAIB:'
2. CAA;

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

Revision history:

24-Nov-2015 21:11 Dr.John Smith Added
24-Nov-2015 21:32 Dr.John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Narrative]
25-Nov-2015 23:22 Dr.John Smith Updated [Location, Narrative]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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