The Northern businessman who died in a helicopter crash in England had recently raised safety concerns with the aircraft’s manufacturers.
Edward Haughey, the North’s richest man and a former member of the Seanad, was killed with three others when his AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter came down in thick fog in a field in Gillingham, near Beccles, Norfolk, at 7.30pm on Thursday.
Two pilots killed in the crash in Norfolk have been named by sources as Carl Dickerson, chief pilot at Haughey Air Ltd, and Lee Hoyle, a co-pilot at the company, which was owned by Mr Haughey. The fourth man who died was named locally as Declan Small, 42, from Co Down, a foreman who worked for Mr Haughey.
The entrepreneur, who became Lord Ballyedmond after he was made a member of Britain’s House of Lords in 2004, was chairman of Norbrook, the largest privately owned pharmaceutical company in the world.
It has emerged that Haughey Air Ltd lodged a writ against AgustaWestland over concerns about a helicopter it supplied. The case was lodged in September last year and is understood to have included concerns about in-flight mapping systems.
A spokesman for AgustaWestland said the company could not comment on possible defects with Mr Haughey’s AW139 VIP helicopter but it was investigating.
Speaking from the company’s office in Italy, he said: “We cannot comment now because we need to make internal checks to establish exactly what the situation is.
“We cannot yet comment on this accident because there is an investigation pending and there could be many causes, be them technical or due to human error.”
In February 2012 an inquest heard that in-flight technology systems on board AgustaWestland helicopters should be improved after a crash which killed a friend of Charles, the prince of Wales.
The mapping databases display the height of terrain such as mountains and whether certain areas are available to fly through, but the four-day inquest in Belfast highlighted flaws.
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