Air accident investigators in Norway say a fuel tank cover on superyacht Bacarella, which came loose and hit the helicopter's main rotor, caused the crash which injured three Brits

15 May 2017

Investigators looking into the helicopter crash at Bergen harbour, south west Norway, say a loose fuel tank cover on superyacht Bacarella wrapped around the helicopter’s main rotor, bringing the aircraft down.

The UK registered Airbus Helicopters AS 350 B3, which was equipped with an Emergency Floatation System, came to rest upside down in the water.

One passenger was seriously injured while the two others onboard suffered minor injuries.

In a statement, the Norwegian Accident Investigation Board (AIBN), which is being assisted by investigators from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), said it had now interviewed witnesses to the accident on 10 May 2017.

It has also examined the helicopter wreckage and video footage taken of the crash.

The remains of a black helicopter

The helicopter had an Emergency Floating System which prevented it from sinking. Credit: PA

“Among these also from a CCTV camera on the helicopter deck of the yacht. As the helicopter was coming in for landing, the yacht camera show a cover being lifted up in the air by the main rotor downdraft.”

“It went through the main rotor disc. The cover was custom made for hiding a fuel depot newly installed on the helideck,” continued the statement.

“The pilot has explained that he observed the cover moving and attempted to avoid it by initiating a climb. The cover hit the main rotor, and control over the helicopter was apparently lost. It rotated around its vertical axis while moving backwards, and struck the sea tail first.”

The pilot activated the Emergency Floating System which prevented the helicopter from sinking.

Immediately after the accident, a nearby rescue vessel from the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue arrived at the site.

Together, this facilitated a quick rescue of the three people onboard the helicopter.

The AIBN said it had also secured all data recording devices from the helicopter wreckage.

Investigations into the crash will continue.


12 May 2017

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has confirmed that three British people have been injured after a helicopter crashed while trying to land on the luxury Bacarella yacht.

The incident happened on Wednesday evening (10 May) at a fjord in Bergen, on Norway’s south west coast.

According to reports, as the helicopter approached the flight deck of Bacarella it spun out of control and crashed into the water.

A helicopter being pulled from the water after crashing while attempting to land on Bacarella yacht

The helicopter being pulled from the water. CreditL PA

It is believed that something became entangled in the helicopter’s rotors.

One of the three people on the helicopter is understood to be in a serious condition, while the others have suffered cuts and bruises.

All are reported to have been wearing survival suits.

A wrecked helicopter with yellow floats is lifted out of the sea

Remains of the helicopter. Credit: PA

An FCO spokesman said: “We can confirm that three British people were injured in an incident in Bergen, Norway on May 10.”

“We are offering assistance to them and remain in close contact with Norwegian authorities.”

The Airbus Helicopter AS 350 B3 is British registered, and was flying from Orkney to the superyacht when the incident happened.

It was removed from the water around midnight on Wednesday.

Continued below…

An investigation is now underway by the Norwegian authorities.

In a statement on its website, the Accident Investigation Board Norway, said: “A British registered helicopter of the type Airbus Helicopters AS 350 B3 with three persons on board was about to land on the helideck on a yacht when it lost control and crashed into the sea.”

“The helicopter was equipped with flotation gear and floated up side down in the sea. One person was seriously injured and two suffered minor injuries.”

A white superyacht with lights on at anchor in a fjord in Norway

Bacarella in the fjord at Bergen, Norway. Credit: PA

The 60-metre Bacarella was built in 2009 by Trinity Yachts, with interior styling by Bannenberg & Rowell Design.

The Cayman Island-registered superyacht can accommodate up to 10 guests and eight crew.

The superyacht is powered by twin 2,012hp Caterpillar diesel engines which gives it a top speed of 16 knots and cruising speed of 14 knots.