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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 May 2007, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Crash copter 'had various faults'
An RAF pilot who saw his colleague die when his helicopter ran out of power in Iraq said the aircraft suffered from a number of faults, an inquest heard.

Flt Lt Kristian Gover, 30, of 33 Squadron, based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, died in the wreckage of the Puma aircraft on 19 July, 2004.

Surviving pilot Flt Lt Daniel Brook, told the inquest: "Puma helicopters suffer from various 'vices'.

But he said Flt Lt Gover and his crew may have underestimated the wind speed.

The helicopter just seemed to fall out of the sky
Air traffic controller Wesley Healey

Flt Lt Brook added: "As we turned down wind the aircraft ran out of power."

Flt Lt Gover and his crew may have underestimated the 20-knot wind speed at Basra Airport that day, he said.

He explained Puma helicopters suffer from various "vices", including a delay in power reaching the rotor blades when controls are changed.

On realising the craft was falling, he said Flt Lt Gover increased power "in a bid to pull out of the drop but because of the fault the rotor speed would have slowed down momentarily before speeding up".

Flt Lt Brook also told the hearing he suspected another fault with some of the helicopter's hydraulics which would also have made it more difficult to control.

He said the aircraft hit the ground before veering back up to around 35ft (10m) "slamming down again on its side before catching fire".

There was a mass of flames coming from the centre of the aircraft, he added.

Wesley Healey, an air traffic controller, said: "The helicopter just seemed to fall out of the sky. When I looked out a second time the helicopter was ablaze."

The inquest continues.


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