AT LEAST four of a helicopter’s five passengers were not wearing seatbelts when it crashed in Denbighshire almost 18 months ago.

The helicopter was destroyed after it unintentionally drifted rearwards and hit trees during a night take-off at Nantclwyd Lodge, near Llanelidan at about 5.25pm on November 1, 2022.

Following an investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, a report published yesterday (April 18) found “several operational barriers” which might have prevented the crash, but were “either breached or not present”.


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Former Ffos Las racecourse owner Dai Walters was one of the helicopter’s passengers and was transferred to intensive care in hospital following the crash.

The report said that "the other passengers had been thrown from their seats during the accident sequence and some, if not all, had ended up on top of him (Mr Walters)".

Of the five passengers, one was seriously injured, while the other four suffered minor injuries.

Meanwhile, four of the passengers were able to get out of the helicopter with help from onlookers, but "the fifth was lying unconscious at the bottom of the cabin".

There was no fire caused by the crash, while the pilot was able to shut down both engines and, help the passengers escape from the cabin.

The report identified “no causal or contributory technical factors” with the helicopter, which had been scheduled to take off during the day but was delayed in doing so.

Distraction and time pressure, the report added, led to the pilot not completing auditable weight and balance calculations, potentially contributing to the helicopter being overweight when it took off.

The pilot, aged 47 at the time, had more than 3,800 hours of flying experience by then, and was uninjured following the crash.

Passengers also did not exert any pressure on the pilot to delay beyond the planned departure time, and the pilot did not consider a night departure would pose an unacceptable risk.

Had all passengers been wearing their seatbelts, meanwhile, the level of injuries sustained were felt to have been potentially less severe. 

Following the crash, action has been taken by the operator to improve its night flying procedures, ground equipment and training, the report added.