Death-crash helicopter 'unsuitable'

Captain Ben Babington-Browne was considered a rising star

Captain Ben Babington-Browne was considered a rising star

First published in Entertainment News © by

A helicopter which crashed on take-off in Afghanistan, killing a British soldier and two Canadian troops, was not suitable for the mission, an inquest has heard.

Captain Ben Babington-Browne, 27, was a passenger on the Canadian Griffon CH-146, which was being used as a "taxi" from forward operating base (FOB) Mescal.

The inquest was told that as the aircraft, carrying six people, tried to take off on July 6 2009 , a dust bowl was whipped up by the rotor blades, cutting visibility.

At a height of less than 10ft, the helicopter then drifted and its rotors collided with a perimeter fence in a corner of the FOB before it crashed and burst into flames.

Capt Babington-Browne, from 22 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, had been strapped in but seated on the floor of the aircraft on take-off, with his legs dangling out.

Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander William Robley, of the UK Defence Helicopter Flying School, told the inquest that Capt Babington-Browne, of Maidstone, Kent, became trapped.

At County Hall, Maidstone, Lt Cdr Robley agreed that the weight of the aircraft, the altitude and the temperature meant it was not the correct helicopter for that mission.

Deputy coroner for Maidstone and Medway Andrew Campbell-Tiech QC asked: "Would you expect a competent pilot to have understood that this was not the correct helicopter for the mission?"

Lt Cdr Robley said it boiled down to the pilot's training, adding: "Unless they have been trained, they are on a voyage of discovery."

The coroner added: "Had you been there, would it have been obvious to you of the risks attached to using the Griffon helicopter in these conditions?"

Lt Cdr Robley replied: "Yes."

He said he was not aware from the Canadians of any difficulties they had operating the helicopter in the hostile environment.

The inquest heard that the heavy weight of the aircraft was partly due to the large amount of fuel it was carrying.

Dr Michael Powers, counsel for the family of Capt Babington-Browne, suggested there was a conflict between a desire to have an adequate reserve of fuel and to fly within safe limits.

Hearing the evidence was Capt Babington-Browne's brother Daniel and mother Nina, who withdrew from the hearing at one point as details of her son's death were disclosed.

Following Capt Babington-Browne's death, he was described by his senior officers as a "rising star" who had "the world at his feet". A graphic designer before joining the Army, Capt Babington-Browne completed his officer's training at Sandhurst.

He became a member of 22 Engineer Regiment in April 2007 and shortly afterwards deployed to Iraq, where he quickly distinguished himself as an "exceptionally gifted leader".

He volunteered for a six-month tour of Afghanistan, working in the headquarters of Nato's Regional Command (South) in Kandahar.

Comments

Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree