A helicopter that crashed in central London on Wednesday after colliding with a crane installed on a tall building had asked to divert to the UK capital’s London Heliport at Battersea, according to air traffic controllers. Captain Pete Barnes, the pilot of the AgustaWestland AW109 twin operated by UK-based RotorMotion, was killed in the accident, as was the driver of a car on the Wandsworth Road on the south bank of the Thames River, where the aircraft crashed at around 8 a.m. local time. As of press time, 13 other people were being treated for injuries.
The aircraft had departed Redhill airfield—near London Gatwick Airport—at 7:35 a.m. local time and, according to the airfield’s chief executive Jon Horne, it was due to fly to Elstree to collect a passenger. Air traffic controllers confirmed that Barnes, 50, had requested a diversion to the London Heliport after being unable to land at Elstree, which is the site of a major movie studio. Weather conditions recorded at nearby London City Airport were broken clouds as low as 100 feet and visibility of around 2,300 feet.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that on January 7 it issued a Notam warning pilots about the crane installed on St George’s Wharf Tower in the Vauxhall district of London. A senior police officer told reporters that the investigation will consider whether the crane carried warning lights as required by law. The pilot was the only person on board the aircraft.