Man chased helicopter at Norwich airport to warn of fire

Apr 12 2012

A helicopter which caught fire was stopped from taking off from Norwich airport by a member of ground staff who ran after it to alert the crew.

The engineer chased after the Dauphin II helicopter on the runway in April last year to get the pilot's attention.

After an inquiry into the incident, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has called for clearer lines of communication for emergencies.

The airport said it had installed an emergency phone line near the runway.

The phone allows personnel to report to air traffic control anything that could endanger the safety of an aircraft.

In its report, the AAIB said the incident happened in the morning of 18 April when the helicopter was about to fly 52 nautical miles from Norwich International Airport to the Pickerill B oil platform.

'Thoroughly investigated'

As the helicopter taxied away, an engineer spotted flames coming from one of its engines.

He told the base manager who tried unsuccessfully to contact the crew of the helicopter.

The engineer then "ran after the helicopter in an attempt to alert the crew to the fire", the report said.

A passenger saw the man and alerted the crew, who saw the engineer give the hand signal for "shutdown" and then "fire". They then turned off the engine.

The fire was put out with an extinguisher.

The AAIB said an examination of the engine revealed the fire had been caused by an oil leak.

It recommended the airport ensure effective emergency communications to air traffic control.

The report said that since the accident the Civil Aviation Authority had requested that airports reviewed their arrangements for alerting air traffic control of emergencies airside.

Richard Pace, operations director at Norwich International Airport, said: "Any safety occurrence is always thoroughly investigated and any lessons learned.

"We have corrected two areas highlighted in the report. We have introduced a dedicated telephone number for any staff within the airport that goes direct to air traffic control.

"We have also reviewed procedures with the airfield operations officer to make sure they are always available."

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News 2012 BBC

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