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HELICOPTER COLLISION WITH TOWER CRANE UPDATE

Air Navigation Order required crane to be lit only at night

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has published Special Bulletin S1/2013 concerning the incident in which a helicopter flying to the east of Battersea Heliport struck the jib of a crane, attached to a building development at St George Wharf, at a height of approximately 700 ft in conditions of reduced meteorological visibility.

The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the helicopter, and a pedestrian were fatally injured when the damaged helicopter impacted a building and adjacent roadway. The Bulletin presents facts determined up to the time of issue and offers no analysis.

The Bulletin provides the following information regarding the tower crane:

“The crane was in place to facilitate the construction of a new high-rise building at One St George Wharf. The main tower of the crane was positioned next to the building and was braced to its structure at regular points. The height of the crane tower was increased by introducing new sections as the building increased in height.

At the time of the accident the building had reached its full height; the crane tower had reached a height of 572 ft agl. On top of the crane tower was a cab unit, a counterjib ‘A’ frame and counter weight platform attached to the crane tower by a bearing ring, which allowed the jib to rotate (slew) in the horizontal plane. The crane had a ‘luffing’ jib, which meant the full length of the jib pivoted in the vertical plane from a point a further 11.5 ft above the height of the tower section.

During out-of-service periods, such as overnight, the jib was parked in the ‘minimum jib’ position, at a 65° angle above the horizontal. At the time of the accident this gave a total height from the ground to the tip of the jib of 719 ft.

The crane was lit at night with red lights, both on its tower and jib. The tower lighting consisted of mains powered steady red lights at approximately 50 m intervals. The jib lighting was provided by solar powered lights. The Air Navigation Order requires the lighting to be of medium intensity (2,000 candela) and that the obstacle be lit at night only.”

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