Tuesday 14 August 2018

Pilot in fatal helicopter crash in which five family members were killed 'had option to turn back' - investigators

The family had strong Irish connections and were travelling from Milton Keynes to Dublin for a family Confirmation at the time of the crash

Police release photo of crash location (Inset: Two of the victims, Ruth and Kevin Burke)
Police release photo of crash location (Inset: Two of the victims, Ruth and Kevin Burke)

Neil Lancefield

A helicopter crash in which five family members were killed happened after the pilot failed to turn around when entering low cloud, accident investigators said.

Three brothers and two of their wives died in the crash in mountains in Snowdonia, North Wales, on March 29 last year.

Pilot Kevin Burke, 56 and his wife Ruth, 49, were among the victims.

Donald Burke, 55, his wife Sharon, 48, and brother Barry, 51, also died.

Donald and Sharon Burke
Donald and Sharon Burke

All were from the greater Milton Keynes area. The family have strong Irish connections and were travelling from Milton Keynes to Dublin for a family Confirmation at the time of the crash.

The helicopter crashed into the Rhinog Mountains of Snowdonia.

The wreckage was found near Trawsfynydd in the Snowdonia mountain range
The wreckage was found near Trawsfynydd in the Snowdonia mountain range

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that the pilot "had the option to turn back, divert or land" when he entered an area of poor visibility.

"Having entered cloud, there appears to have been no attempt to turn back," according to the report.

Donald and Barry Burke
Donald and Barry Burke

The privately owned Twin Squirrel aircraft struck the side of Rhinog Fawr Mountain at an altitude of 2,000 feet.

A system which alerts pilots when they are approaching high terrain is available for the GPS equipment used by the helicopter, but it was not fitted.

"There was no other means of warning the pilot of the rising ground," accident investigators concluded.

The bodies of the victims were found with the wreckage near Trawsfynydd.

Kevin and Ruth Burke
Kevin and Ruth Burke

Press Association

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