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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 188940
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Time:14:38 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS55 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Aerospatiale AS 355F1 Ecureuil II
Owner/operator:Fast Helicopters Ltd
Registration: G-XCEL
MSN: 5324
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Andover, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Thruxton Airfield (EGHO)
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Written off destroyed) 02-12-2003 when crashed at Doiley Woods, Hurstbourme Tarrant, during a test flight out of Thruxton Airfield, Andover, Hampshire. All three Persons On Board (pilot and two passengers) were fatally injured. According to the following excerpt from the official AAIB report into the accident:

"The helicopter was engaged on a post-maintenance test-flight following the fitment of a newly overhauled main rotor gearbox and combining gearbox. Eyewitnesses heard unusual noises coming from the helicopter before the tail boom apparently folded forward around the cabin. The helicopter then fell to the ground, catching fire on impact. All three occupants received fatal injuries.

Examination showed that the two gearboxes and the main rotor had detached before impact. Subsequent investigation showed that the left freewheel showed clear evidence of slippage under load; the right freewheel also showed signs of slippage but not to the same extent. It is concluded that a series of freewheel slippages followed by aggressive re-engagements led to the structural failure.

The reasons for the slippage however, cannot be proven conclusively. Although it was found that the rollers forming part of the freewheel mechanism had come from a manufactured batch that had been coated using an incorrect process, no laboratory testing could reproduce any greater tendency for such a coating to cause slippage.

The helicopter manufacturer recorded five incidents of slippage under load, coinciding with the introduction of rollers from this batch. Satisfactory performance of the freewheels resumed following the removal from service of the incorrectly coated batch of rollers".

Per a contemporary press report ("Southern Daily Echo" 04-03-2005, see link #6): "North east Hampshire coroner, Andrew Bradley, recorded a verdict of misadventure at the inquest..."


1. AAIB:
2. CAA:

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

Revision history:

30-Jul-2016 17:53 Dr.John Smith Added
25-Sep-2016 17:13 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Location, Departure airport, Narrative]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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