Passenger hurt as pigeon smashes through helicopter windscreen near Edinburgh Airport

A HELICOPTER passenger was hurt after a wood pigeon smashed through the cockpit’s windscreen on approach to Edinburgh Airport.

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 4:30 pm
A Bell 429 helicopter

The front seat passenger needed hospital treatment for face and hand injuries after being showered with debris.

Air investigators described how the 52-year-old pilot tried to take evasive action at 115mph but had to declare a MAYDAY emergency before landing the chopper.

“Whilst on short final for landing, at a speed of approximately 100 kt, the pilot noticed several

birds off the left side of the helicopter,” reads the Air Accidents Investigation Branch report.

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“These were not considered to present a threat but he then saw a single bird straight ahead, crossing from right to left.

“He immediately banked the helicopter to the right but was unable to avoid the bird, which struck the left windscreen.

“The pilot declared a MAYDAY before successfully landing and the passenger was taken to


The pilot of the six-year-old helicopter was coming in to land with his lone passenger shortly before 3.20 pm on November 25 last year having flown from Blackpool.

Investigators probing the bird strike on the private Bell 429 chopper recommended better protection for pilots and passengers.

Their report adds: “The Bell 429 windscreen is not designed to withstand bird strikes and the design certification requirements do not require it to do so.

“A recent study by the Rotorcraft Bird Strike Working Group has recommended the introduction of bird strike protection requirements for Normal category rotorcraft to minimise the risk of damage or injury.”

The left windshield of the twin-engine aircraft, behind which the passenger was seated, was shattered and the interior trim damaged by the impact.

Investigators found that the pitot had 3,900 flying hours, 800 of which were in the Bell 429 and the passenger was also a trained pilot.

Bits of the acrylic windscreen were found strewn throughout the cockpit and passenger area of the nine-seater aircraftupon landing.

The 22.5-ounce wood pigeon was killed in the impact and was found near the passenger seat.

Other safety guidelines included training to remind flight crews that more than three out of four bird strikes happen at airspeeds greater than 90mph.

Investigators advised slower flight speeds in areas known to have a high-density bird


They also pointed out that numbers of bird strikes drop by nearly a third with every 1,000ft gained above 500ft.

US-based helicopter manufacturer Bell studied photographs of the damaged windscreen and its broken fragments.

They concluded: “The outcome, based on the size of bird and airspeed, is what was expected and in line with previous events.”