MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) – A drunk passenger allowed to fly a helicopter by a drunk pilot, who had obtained his license illegally, caused a crash that killed all three aboard on a December afternoon northwest of Russia’s capital, an inquiry has found.
The pilot was in the helicopter’s front-left seat at the time of the crash, not the front-right seat that is fully equipped for flying the aircraft, suggesting it was being flown by the passenger, the Interstate Aviation Committee said in a report released Friday.
The US-made Robinson R44 crashed into a forest near the town of Solnechnogorsk on December 8 after clipping some tree tops and spinning out of control, the report said, adding that the pilot had obtained his license illegally by submitting forged medical documents.
Neither the pilot nor the front-seat passenger was qualified to fly an R44 at night or in bad weather, the committee said. Visibility at the time of the crash was poor, just 1.2-2.4 miles (2-4 km), with the cloud base down to 100-300 meters (300-1,000 feet), and occasional snow.
Analysis of the pilot’s blood after the crash revealed that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.9 per mil, while the passengers had a level of 1.6 and 2.2 per mil. In addition, the pilot could not have properly controled the aircraft from the left seat because there were no pedals for the tail rotor on that side, the report said.
The helicopter did not have an airworthiness certificate, and its registration number was taped over, the committee noted, adding that the pilot had also carried out periodical maintenance of the aircraft despite having no experience or qualification to do so.