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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 17939
Last updated: 9 September 2021
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Date:26-JUL-1998
Time:16:37
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS50 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Aérospatiale AS350 F1 Ecureuil
Owner/operator:Kent Air Ambulance
Registration: G-MASK
MSN: 5326
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Burnham, south of the M2 motorway and Rochester airport, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Ambulance
Departure airport:Rochester, Kent (RCS/EGTO)
Destination airport:Rochester, Kent (RCS/EGTO)
Investigating agency: AAIB
Narrative:
The task from which the helicopter did not return began at 1604 hours when the crew took off from Rochester to attend a road traffic accident about 3 nm north of the airport on the M2 motorway just north of the Medway Bridge. The crew had some difficulty in locating the accident because the vehicle had left the road and entered bushes and they circled the area at low altitude for a while before finding the location. There was no suitable landing site beside the car so the commander landed in the corner of a field a few hundred metres north of the car, beside an underpass leading to a housing estate.

The commander shut down the helicopter and remained with it whilst the ambulancemen went to the scene of the car accident. Their services were not required and they returned to the helicopter, stowed their gear and boarded. By this time people had made their way through the underpass to watch the helicopter depart. As it did so, two boys reported seeing what looked to them like sparks or flashes of light coming from the main rotor head mast area. The flashes stopped before the helicopter took off; apart from these observations and one report of an oily smell, there were no reports from the onlookers to suggest anything remarkable about the helicopter's departure. It lifted to the hover, transitioned to the north-west and then turned left onto a heading which the observers thought was consistent with a return to Rochester Airport. The ambulancemen sent a coded message to their HQ reporting that they were airborne, returning to base, and available for tasking; this message was timed at 1625 hours, some 12 minutes before the helicopter crashed.

The weather at the time of the accident was fine with a temperature of 20°C, light winds from the west, good visibility and a few clouds at 4,000 feet. It was clear from an examination of the crash site and the wreckage that the accident occurred when G-MASK collided with an electric power cable and very shortly thereafter struck the ground.

Post crash fire.

Sources:

1. AAIB: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5422ee1840f0b613460001ef/Aerospatiale_AS355_F1_Ecureuil_II__G-MASK_02-00.pdf
2. CAA: https://siteapps.caa.co.uk/g-info/rk=MASK
3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/139680.stm
4. http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/air-ambulance-crash-pilot-blame-a11902/
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_Air_Ambulance#1998_Air_Ambulance_crash
6. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2668.0
7. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12256511.Five_killed_in_air_crashes_Helicopter_hits_power_lines/
8. http://www.burhamvillage.com/historykentairambulancememorial.htm
9. https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/120523-kent-air-ambulance-pilot-cleared.html

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

Media:

Blue Bell Hill Picnic site on the North Downs in Kent gives a view over the Medway Gap Memorial to Kent Air Ambulance Crew. Crashed 26 July 1998. BlueBellHill0001

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
19-Oct-2012 22:21 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Nature, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
20-Oct-2012 02:08 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
20-Oct-2012 02:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
26-May-2013 02:54 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
23-Oct-2015 13:18 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Source]
23-Oct-2015 13:21 Aerossurance Updated [Location, Narrative]
27-Jun-2016 12:10 Dr.John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Embed code]
20-Feb-2020 18:20 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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