An AgustaWestland AW109 reportedly hit a construction crane on top of a high-rise building near the River Thames around 8:00 am this morning London time. The collision resulted in the helicopter losing control and hitting the ground along Wandsworth Road, SW8 in Central London.
According to police the pilot, Capt. Pete Best, and one other person on the ground have been confirmed dead. There were 12 other casualties.
In appears that the helicopter collided with the crane in early morning misty conditions. Parts of the crane have also been found on the ground.
Pete Barnes, the 50-year-old pilot, worked for charter firm Rotormotion, based at Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey. According to the company, Barnes was a very experienced pilot with more than 12,000 hours and had been flying with Rotormotion since its foundation over 15 years ago.
During the flight, which began at Redhill and was scheduled to end at Elstree in North London, Best had requested a diversion from his intended course due to bad weather over London.
Metropolitan Police Commander Neil Basu said it was “miraculous” that more people had not been harmed at such a busy time in the morning rush period.
Tall structures in the UK must have lights and apparently the lights on the crane involved at The Tower, One St George Whaft, were checked yesterday. A Civil Aviation Authority team has already begun an investigation.
Already questions have been raised regarding low level flights over London and whether London’s Battersea heliport should be in operation.
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