Serious incident AgustaWestland AW169 G-KSSC, Wednesday 11 October 2023
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Date:Wednesday 11 October 2023
Type:Silhouette image of generic A169 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
AgustaWestland AW169
Owner/operator:Specialist Aviation Services opf KSS Air Ambulance
Registration: G-KSSC
MSN: 69061
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: None
Category:Serious incident
Location:Bearsted Common, Maidstone, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:
Destination airport:Bearsted Common, Maidstone, Kent
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Helicopter downwash moved cricket pitch ground cover causing injury to one person, Bearsted Common, Maidstone, Kent 11 October 2023.

"The crew of G-KSSC was tasked as a HEMS" [Helicopter Emergency Medical Service] asset to attend an incident in Maidstone, Kent.

On arrival at the area, the incident scene was identified by the presence of emergency response vehicles on the ground, already attending to the casualty. The crew discussed potential landing sites and concluded that a field containing a cricket pitch, approximately 80 metres to the west of the emergency responders, provided the best option.

The crew assessed the field and established that its size, approximately 80 m by 120 m, was more than sufficient to use as a HEMS landing site. The crew decided on an approach track that avoided the cricket pavilion and some residential properties to the north-east of the pitch. This also allowed the approach to be conducted largely into wind, which was from the south-west.

The crew noted that there were pedestrians at the northern end of the field and some ground covers protecting the playing surface, but the main pitch area was clear. They elected to use a helipad profile approach with a committal height of 180 ft agl to provide sufficient clearance from surface obstructions.

On the final approach to land, when passing abeam the pavilion, the crew noticed that two previously unseen members of the public had appeared at the north-eastern edge of the cricket square, near the pavilion. The pilot flying stopped the descent at a height of approximately 160 ft agl to minimise the effect of the rotor downwash and extended his aiming point further into the area.

As the crew established the helicopter in a hover at about 40 ft agl, one of the medical crew in the cabin noticed that the ground covers had rolled from their original position. The pilot flying decided to continue with the landing as any additional manoeuvring would risk blowing the covers further. After landing, the helicopter was shut down.

On exiting the helicopter, bystanders alerted the medical crew to a lady who had been injured by one of the ground covers. While the medical crew responded to the primary incident they had been dispatched to, the pilots attended to the injured lady to render first aid. They established that she had suffered a cut to her leg when one of the ground covers rolled towards her, striking her. The lady was then triaged at the scene by a Critical Care Paramedic and subsequently conveyed to hospital.

On investigation, the pilots found that the covers were mounted on wheels which were equipped with brakes. The brakes had not been applied and the covers were moved easily.

The operator published a Flying Staff Instruction (FSI) to provide enhanced guidance to pilots on the awareness of downwash and links to industry guidance material and resources for additional study. The FSI was incorporated into the Operations Manual.

AAIB Conclusion
The serious incident happened when a ground cover, moved by downwash from the approaching HEMS helicopter, struck a bystander in the leg. The cover was mounted on wheels equipped with brakes, but the brakes had not been applied. Downwash can be a significant risk, especially when operating in an urban environment."

This AgustaWestland AW169 was built in 2017, and first registered in Italy in November 2017 to the manufacturers as I-EASJ for test flying and delivery purposes. The helicopter was first registered as G-KSSC on 22 December 2017. G-KSSC was owned and operated by Specialist Aviation Services. It was re-registered on 12 February 2024 to Gama Aviation (UK) Ltd (but still operated for Kent Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance)

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 8 months
Download report: Final report




G-TCAA (left) with G-KSSC (right): Two Leonardo AgustaWestland AW169 Helicopters (Specialist Aviation Services Ltd) at Gloucestershire Airport (GLO/EGBJ) 26 October 2021 G-TCAA With G-KSSC Two Leonardo AgustaWestland AW169 Helicopters (Specialist Aviation Services Ltd)

Revision history:

13-Jun-2024 18:52 Dr. John Smith Added
13-Jun-2024 18:53 ASN Updated [Aircraft type, Accident report]
23-Jun-2024 14:43 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source, Narrative]
30-Jun-2024 15:06 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
30-Jun-2024 16:04 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]
30-Jun-2024 16:04 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]

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