Pilots at a Scots helicopter firm which provided aerial filming for Hollywood blockbusters, including the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, have been ordered to drop their speed after two almost-identical scares.
• A helicopter firm which provided aerial filming for several Hollyoowd films has been ordered to drop their speed
• Two helicopter sustained damage as choppers flew at speeds of up to 92mph
Inverness-based PDG Helicopters had two of their aircraft damaged in incidents eight days apart.
The two helicopters were damaged by low-hanging cargo hooks which were blown upwards due to the pilots flying at maximum speeds of 80 knots – 92mph.
The incidents were revealed in the latest official bulletin by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
The first incident occurred in Cairngorms National Park, northern Scotland, on October 8 – near to where scenes of the Batman movie were shot two years ago.
The AAIB bulletin said: “The pilot reported that the helicopter encountered localised severe turbulence while flying at the maximum allowed airspeed for the configuration, 80 knots (92mph).
“This caused it to sink rapidly, about 60 to 80 feet. The pilot heard a bang and immediately realised that the chain had struck the aircraft, probably in the region of the tail boom.”
Eight days later, in Kettlewell, North Yorkshire, the same model of aircraft was involved in a similar incident.
The AAIB said: “As the helicopter was descending towards the field site at 75 to 80 knots, the pilot heard a loud bang and felt a high frequency vibration.
“It was subsequently found that the empty chain lifting sling had made contact with both tail rotor blades, tail rotor driveshaft cover and the port horizontal stabiliser.”
Both pilots, who were aged 60 and 66 at the time of the incidents, landed the helicopters safely and were unharmed.
The bulletin concluded: “The helicopter operator conducted an internal investigation into the two accidents, which concluded that the sling had entered the tail rotors due to high airspeed.
“A safety bulletin was issued to all affected pilots and ground crew, highlighting the changes and stressing the need to adhere to the 80 knot speed limit, whilst being prepared to reduce speed further in unfavourable flight conditions.”
Both aircraft were operated by Inverness-based PDG Helicopters.
According to the company’s website, the model of aircraft involved in the incidents was used for aerial filming on Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, which was filmed in various locations around the UK including Cairngorms National Park.
PDG also worked on the opening scenes of Ridley Scott sci-fi reboot Prometheus, which were filmed on the Isle of Skye.
PDG chief executive Jerry Francis described the AAIB report into the incidents as “comprehensive”, but said he did not wish to comment further.