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Inquest: Mountain crash helicopter 'flying outside limits'
A HELICOPTER which crashed into a mountain in Peru, killing 14 people including a Gerrards Cross man, was flying outside of its operating limits, an inquest heard.
Father-of-two Tomas Dusek, of Donnay Close, died when the S58 aircraft collided with Mama Rosa mountain in the Andes in June.
The inquest into the death of the 37-year-old businessman heard the pilot was previously responsible for a similar crash eight years ago which killed two passengers.
Mr Dusek and his colleagues were returning from a surveying flight for StormHarbour Securities along a river near Cusko in Southern Peru when the helicopter hit the mountain at 16,000ft.
An investigation into the accident by the Peruvian authorities showed the aircraft, operated by Helicusco, was not permitted to fly above 15,00ft.
And despite not being authorised to fly at night, the crew took off to return to base just before sunset.
Paul Hannat of the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AIIB), who studied the Peruvian report, said low cloud could have made visibility difficult.
And he believes the helicopter may have been attempting a turn away from the cliff face when it struck the mountain.
The AIIB conclusion stated: "The accident was caused by inadequate flight planning and poor handling of operating risk by the pilot and the operating company in bad weather conditions.
"It flew in the last minutes of daylight exceeding the operating limits specified by the manufacturer and the operator."
Coroner Richard Hulett heard how the survey flight along the Inambari river was cancelled due to bad weather.
And despite initially not planning to return to Cusco after refuelling, the operating company persuaded the pilot to make the trip home that evening.
The aircraft took off at 4.46pm local time on June 6 and followed the route of the highway through the mountains.
But at 5.23pm, while heading for Mount Mama Rosa, the helicopter struck a saddle, or ridge, killing the pilot, the co-pilot and 12 passengers.
Mr Dusek, who was married, died of extensive burn injuries.
Mr Hulett recorded a verdict of misadventure at Beaconsfield Coroner’s Court on Wednesday.
He said: "I feel misadventure is an appropriate verdict given the evidence as it does not apportion any blame.
"It can be difficult with deaths abroad to establish the facts as we are always dealing with second or third hand evidence.
"It is not for this court to apportion blame, civil or criminal liabilities."
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