Monday, 12 February 2018

Three Brits killed in Grand Canyon helicopter crash

Three British people have died after a tourist helicopter belonging to Papillon Airways crashed in the Grand Canyon in the US state of Arizona. 

The aircraft an EC130 came down at about 17:20 local time (00:20 GMT) on Saturday. It is not clear what caused the crash. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said it suffered "substantial damage". Six passengers and a pilot were on board the helicopter when it crashed into jagged rocks by the Grand Canyon’s West Rim, the four that survived have been taken to a local hospital and are in critical condition. 

The UK's Foreign Office confirmed it was offering assistance, a spokesperson said: "We are providing support to the families of six British visitors involved in a helicopter accident at the Grand Canyon on 10 February, and we are in close contact with the US emergency services."

Papillon Airways operated the helicopter involved in this incident and claims to be "the world's largest aerial sightseeing company" and has over 600,000 passengers each year. There are numerous reports in the last few months of helicopters being pulled of their normal schedule for both routine and non-routine maintenance.  The company has had at least three fatal crashes since 1999, all of which appeared to be caused by pilot error according to investigators. In 1999 a trainee pilot was called with neither he nor his instructor cleared snow from the helicopter before trying to fly.  In 2001 the pilot and five passengers were killed when the pilot lost control for an unknown reason.  In 2014 a pilot was killed by his own helicopter after he left it running in 'flight idle' while he got out to take a pee. 

The Foreign Office said it was providing support to the families of those who died and to those of three more Britons who were injured.

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