Aviation Google Earth

When a map tells a story..

Last weeks tragic accident involving the crash of a Augusta helicopter in London, which claimed two lives is still fresh in the minds of most Londoners. Yesterday the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) published their initial accident bulletin, which describes the facts surrounding the accident as investigated without the analysis which will come in a later report in some months time.

The AAIB report illustrates the last few minutes of the flight of the helicopter using this graphic produced with Google Earth.


G-CRST track

The track data comes from the reported radar position and Mode S altitude data produced by the helicopters transponder. The helicopter an AW 109E G-CRST was flying south after attempting to land at Elstree, and from the track you can was flying east while waiting for clearance to land at the London Heliport in Battersea a few miles to the west. According to the AAIB report at 0759 clearance was received at the helicopter began a turn to the south to head back west towards Battersea.

G-CRST at Fairoaks (image flickr: billy_mcnally)
G-CRST at Fairoaks (image flickr: billy_mcnally)

In the turn the helicopter hit the crane on top of the St. Georges Wharf development, shedding it’s rotor blades and crashing to the ground on Wandsworth Road.

While the graphic above is itself powerful of course it does not tell the full story, a key contributing factor to this accident will be the weather conditions at the time of low cloud and freezing fog with a cloud base lower than the 700ft high crane.

Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)

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