Wedding Photographer

Helicopter pilot in wedding day crash faces ‘worst possible emergency’



A helicopter pilot involved in a crash that injured four people, including married on their wedding day, faced “the worst possible emergency,” another pilot said.

Christchurch couple Mahdi Zougoub and Fay El Hanafy were injured in the helicopter crash on the wedding day on June 12. Wedding photographer Rachel Jordan was also seriously injured along with pilot Lynda Harrap.

The helicopter’s owner, Wyndon Aviation, had earlier said the investigation was in its early stages, but confirmed that the engine suffered “a complete loss of power shortly after take-off.”

Four people were injured when the helicopter crashed near Windwhistle in the Canterbury High Country.

John Kirk-Anderson / Stuff

Four people were injured when the helicopter crashed near Windwhistle in the Canterbury High Country.

The company conducted an internal investigation after the crash, including a review of data and other evidence gathered by independent helicopter pilot Simon Spencer-Bower.

READ MORE:
* The helicopter suffered a “total loss of power” before crashing
* Wedding photographer who hates to fly recounts when the helicopter collapsed to the ground
* Newlyweds injured in helicopter crash delayed marriage after terrorist attack and Covid

In a statement released by Wyndon Aviation, Spencer-Bower said helicopters can land safely in the event of an engine failure using a procedure called autorotation descent.

“[It] essentially involves sliding the helicopter close to the ground and then cushioning the helicopter to the ground with little or no forward speed.

Spencer-Bower said emergency practice was a “major component” of all aviation flight training.

Engine failure right after takeoff left a pilot with limited options for a safe outcome, he said.

Newlyweds Fay El Hanafy, left, and Mahdi Zougub, saw their June 12 wedding cut short when their helicopter crashed.  Both were seriously injured.

Provided

Newlyweds Fay El Hanafy, left, and Mahdi Zougub, saw their June 12 wedding cut short when their helicopter crashed. Both were seriously injured.

“In this case, the pilot was only just above tree height, the worst possible time for complete loss of engine power.”

Surviving a complete and sudden engine failure depended in large part on a pilot’s “split second trigger” and having sufficient altitude and speed to perform a stable autorotation.

Spencer-Bower said Harrap only had “fractions of a second to respond.” She was not only a very experienced professional pilot, but also a senior helicopter flight instructor, he said.

“All the parameters of the flight leading up to the time of the engine failure were completely done ‘by the book’. No compromise was made.

“Faced with the worst possible emergency, with very low altitude and limited landing zone options, the pilot was able to react immediately to the dire situation and put the helicopter down in autorotation.

“[She] avoided the trees ahead and steered into an open area, and was able to send the helicopter to the ground with the least vertical descent possible in the situation, sufficiently reducing the impact forces and thus saving everyone’s life.

This photo was taken by wedding <a class=photographer Rachel Jordan shortly before the helicopter she was in crashed at Terrace Downs.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

Rachel Jordan / Supplied

This photo was taken by wedding photographer Rachel Jordan shortly before the helicopter she was in crashed at Terrace Downs.

The pilot’s actions were a “prime example of a professional pilot playing by the rules,” he said.

A spokesperson for Wyndon Aviation said the company was “extremely proud” of Harrap.

Harrap, who suffered spinal injuries, remained in Burwood Hospital and continued to make “positive gains,” the company said.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.