Vauxhall helicopter crash – behavioural safety implications

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Vauxhall helicopter crash – behavioural safety implications

By Jon Harris">Jon HarrisIn standard26th November, 2015

The inquest into the tragic helicopter crash at Vauxhall in January 2013 is not yet finished, and I have not heard all the evidence.  But yesterday the press reported a couple of items from the evidence given in court which are very thought-provoking for safety behaviourists.

We often think about the “Barriers” or the “Why-Not’s?” to safe behaviour – the pressures that work on people to take a chance which perhaps they should not take.

In yesterday’s evidence:

  • Direct commercial pressure: A friend of the pilot said that the pilot had told him that he was “under extreme pressure” to fly.  The friend said that he mentioned “punters and the company” in connection with this (although a client who also gave evidence strongly denied that he put pressure on the pilot to fly in bad weather).


  • The complacency of experience: The pilot was described in court as “a guru – the most experienced pilot in the industry”.  Is there a possibility that he took risks, because of this status or perception thereof, that others would not?


  • Indirect peer pressure: The client whom the pilot was on his way to collect at the time of the crash said: “Maybe we became too friendly, and he thought he would be letting me down”.


The inquest is continuing, and we again express our condolences and sympathy to those directly affected by this tragic event.

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