Report reveals near-miss between police helicopter and microlight

NPAS police helicopter from Wattisham  over Suffolk ANL-150225-155123001
NPAS police helicopter from Wattisham over Suffolk ANL-150225-155123001

A police helicopter and a gyrocopter narrowly avoided a mid-air collision, it has been revealed.

The close call happened when the microlight and helicopter both had ‘late sightings’ of the other while using different radio frequencies on the afternoon of September 7.

The police pilot told investigators there was a ‘high’ risk of collision with the microlight as he flew over Beccles, Suffolk.

He said he took avoiding action after seeing the aircraft when it was 328ft away.

The incident was examined by the Civil Aviation Authority’s UK Airprox Board, which looks into near misses in airspace.

Investigators found ‘safety margins had been much reduced below normal’.

The gyrocopter pilot said he was ‘enjoying an afternoon flight in his local area’ when he changed path after seeing a road accident below.

He told the board he was travelling at about 1,300ft when he saw the helicopter, which had been deployed to photograph the aftermath of the crash, around 200ft below him.

He ‘applied full power and climbed to the left’ just before the helicopter pilot also took avoiding action ‘by turning left and descending’, the report found.

On his return to his base at Wattisham Airfield the helicopter pilot reported the near-miss.

The board said it was ‘unfortunate’ the two pilots were not monitoring the same radio frequency at the same time.

It decided the cause of the near-miss was ‘a late sighting by both pilots’.