The Aviation Accident Investigation Branch (AABI) released a report on Tuesday, following a fatal helicopter incident near Vauxhall Bridge, London, in January of last year.

The incident occurred on 16 January 2013, when the helicopter collided with a crane attached to a building development at St George Wharf, close to London Heliport, at a height of approximately 700 feet. This collision and the helicopter’s subsequent impact with the adjacent roadway resulted in the death of the pilot, a pedestrian and a number of casualties. A cloak of freeze fog and low cloud over London meant that the weather conditions were challenging at the time of the incident.

The report makes a number of technical safety recommendations:

1. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) should require the UK Air Navigation Service Providers to assess the effect of obstacles on operational procedures:

  • Relating to published Visual Flight Rules (VFR) routes near those obstacles, and controlling non-Instrument Flight Rules flights within the Control Areas and Control Zones surrounding UK airports, and to modify the procedures to enable pilots to comply with ATC instructions and Air Navigation regulations.

2. Department for Transport should:

  • Implement a mechanism, compliant with Regulation (EU) 73/2010 and UK law, for the formal reporting and management of obstacle data, including a reporting requirement for newly permitted developments;
  • Implement measures that enable the CAA to assess, before planning permission is granted, the potential implications of new obstacles for airspace arrangements and procedures; and,
  • Remind the relevant authorities to notify the CAA: (i) where planning permission for developments which include obstacles is granted; (ii) about obstacles not previously notified; and, (iii) about obstacles previously notified that no longer exist.
  • (A similar recommendation applies to the Scottish Government reminding the relevant Scottish planning bodies)

3. The CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) should:

  • Review Federal Aviation Regulations (VFR Flight Planning, Pre-flight Risk Analysis) to assess whether their implementation would provide safety benefits for those helicopter operations within the UK and Europe, respectively; and 
  • Assess whether mandating the use of Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems compliant with Technical Standard Order C194 or European Technical Standard Order C194 would provide benefits for helicopter operations within the UK and Europe, respectively.

View the full report at