Three people are lucky to be alive after a skilled helicopter pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the British countryside village of Aspley Guise. The Robinson R44 crashed during the emergency landing attempt at around 11:00 a.m., flipping over onto its side in a remote field roughy a mile from the M1.
Authorities say the pilot was flying two women to a funeral in Sussex when something went wrong with the R44's engine. Emergency crews were dispatched to the scene of the crash expecting to find casualties. Thanks to the skills of the unidentified pilot, all three were able to walk away from the incident with scrapes and bruises. According to ITV, the victims were taken to Salford, and the two women were eventually driven to the funeral.
The crash is currently under investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Bureau.
The crash in England came on the same day that New Zealand decided to clear R44 helicopters to fly again after the country had previously grounded them due to safety concerns.
Last Thursday, a Robinson R44 went down in Queenstown, New Zealand, killing 42-year-old pilot Stephen Anthony Nicholson Combe and 18-year-old James Louis Patterson Gardner. Two days after the Queenstown crash, New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority ordered that all Robinson R44's be grounded until testing was completed on the crash helicopter's main rotor blades. It was initially thought that the Queenstown crash was caused by a rotor blade crack, which had caused a previous crash in January. After it was discovered that a rotor blade crack was not the cause of the Queenstown crash, the CAA lifted the R44 grounding, which was reportedly the largest in the country's history.
Even though R44's have been cleared to fly in New Zealand, many still call into question their safety. In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Baum Hedlund aviation attorney Ronald Goldman said he expects the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take note of several recent accidents around the world and actively test the airworthiness of the R44's main rotor blades. "If there is a problem which can occur simply because of the [R44's] design, everybody needs to know it and needs to know it right away."