Highlands & Islands

'Unstable load' played part in North Uist fatal crash

North Uist helicopter crash
Image caption The helicopter could be seen upside down and partially submerged in the loch

A helicopter crashed, killing the pilot, after the load it was lifting became unstable, an investigation has found.

Peter Clunas, 59, was carrying out work on a fish farm in North Uist when the accident happened in June 2018.

The small boat being lifted became unstable and "flew upwards", causing the lifting line to strike the helicopter's tail rotor.

The Aberdeenshire-based pilot's machine then became "uncontrollable".

Image copyright Peter Clunas Family
Image caption Peter Clunas family said in a statement last year he was a larger than life character

An Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said the helicopter "descended rapidly" into Loch Scadavay and crashed.

Mr Clunas, from Newburgh, was the sole occupant of the aircraft. In a statement released last year, his family described him as a larger than life character.

The fatal accident happened on 13 June south of Lochmaddy.

In the report the AAIB said: "The physical characteristics of the boat and the method by which it was carried increased the probability of it becoming unstable.

"The helicopter operator has taken a number of safety actions mainly relating to its operational procedures and training.

"It has also temporarily curtailed the carriage of selected types of unstable or potentially unstable loads."

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