Saturday, January 05, 2013

Aerospatiale/Westland SA 341G Gazelle, YU-HEW: Court told of doubts over tragic crash pilot training - Accident occurred January 26, 2008 in Rudding Park, Harrogate, North Yorkshire - UK

Flight Instructor Ian King 
 Ian King appeared at Leeds Crown Court where he denies falsely obtaining the license for Paul Spencer who was killed in the crash alongside his wife Linda near Harrogate almost 5 years ago.

Published on Saturday 5 January 2013 06:00

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) expert told a jury that he did not consider weather conditions suitable for flying at some of the times a wealthy businessman recorded in his logbook that he had been on training exercises in a helicopter.

The businessman, Paul Spencer, and his wife Linda, who ran Country Baskets, were killed on January 26, 2008 when a Westland Gazelle helicopter he was piloting crashing in Rudding Park, Harrogate, just over a month after he obtained his private helicopter license.

Flight instructor Ian King is accused of lying to help him obtain his license more quickly.

The prosecution claim that he falsely certified to the CAA that Mr Spencer had completed all the training requirements in respect of flying hours when he had not done so.

King, 53 of Burns Way, Clifford, Wetherby, denies making a false representation with intent to deceive.

Frederick Cross, the senior helicopter flight examiner at the licensing section of the CAA, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday that, although Mr Spencer was a qualified pilot on fixed wing aircraft, flying helicopters was very different.

Mr Spencer had put in his logbook that he completed his training between November 19 and December 12 in the shorter days of winter.

Mr Cross told the jury that he considered it “extremely unusual” for a trainee helicopter pilot to complete his hours in such a short period, particularly at that time of year.

He agreed under cross-examination by Jon Gregg, defending King, that if a “pilot had skill and confidence and was driven hard” he could do it.

He also accepted that Mr Spencer would have acquired considerable navigation skills as a fixed wing aircraft pilot.

But he said that when he examined the logbook he could find no record that some of the exercises required had been done and the flight times recorded did not appear to allow time for them even if not logged.

Nor were the weather conditions suitable for some of the manoeuvres involved when other exercises were recorded as done.

“I do not believe those exercises could have taken place specifically on those dates in that weather,” he said. Overcast weather “severely restricts your ability since you must not go into cloud”, Mr Cross added.

He told the jury that the CAA relied on the instructor signing off the license application to certify that all training was complete.

Stephen Hunt, a CAA investigator, said King had not supplied his own logbook records when requested after the crash and as a result of that had been convicted at Leeds Magistrates Court in 2009 in relation to failure to present his logbook.

The trial continues on Monday.

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