Friday 20 July 2018

Ross Kemp visit a 'contributory factor' in Afghanistan helicopter crash

Former EastEnders actor's visit to £40m helicopter was 'contributory factor' to overall focus of British crew that crashed in Helmand, official report finds

Ross Kemp in Afghanistan in January 2008
Ross Kemp in Afghanistan in January 2008

A visit from Ross Kemp was a "contributory factor" to the focus of a British crew of an Apache that crashed almost eight years ago in Afghanistan, according to a report.

The former EastEnders actor was one of a number of visitors to the £40million helicopter on September 4 2008 while filming an award-winning TV series, the report says.

The Ministry of Defence board of inquiry found that a major cause of the accident was "disorientation" experienced by the pilot when "he entered a dust cloud during a transition".

It added: "In summary, it is clear to the Board that this accident was caused by the disorientation of the HP when conducting a poorly executed transition downwind, with inadequate aircraft performance and engulfed in heavy recirculation.

"The Board believes that the crew lacked sufficient experience for the complex, high end, unsupervised operation, had become fatigued and were distracted at a critical juncture."

However, referring to Kemp's visit to the base in Helmand Province, it added: "Whilst not a distraction at the time of the accident the Board believes it was a contributory factor to the overall focus of the crew."

Both crew members - including the pilot - escaped the crash which saw the helicopter lose its tail and suffer severe damage to its rotor blades, with minor injuries.

Following the release of the report, an MoD spokesman said: "Our highly skilled pilots are trained to deal with all kinds of emergency situations and incidents like this are extremely rare.

"To suggest that this was caused by the filming of a documentary would be disingenuous."

The crash came as Kemp was filming the second series of his Sky One series Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, which was awarded a Bafta for best factual programme.

There is no suggestion Kemp was at all to blame for the crash. The star was not available for comment, the Sunday Express reported.

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