Helicopter and plane narrowly avoid collision above Welsh beauty spot

Beachgoers in a stock image from 2020 at Caswell Bay
-Credit: (Image: Mark Lewis)

A helicopter and plane narrowly avoided crashing over a Mumbles beach, according to a report. The incident was a near miss in which neither pilot saw the other in time to take evasive action, with the helicopter pilot able to see the tread on the plane's tyres as it narrowly passed overhead.

The UK Airprox Board is an organisation aiming to improve air safety in the UK and issues reports on near misses. In a recently-released report it detailed the incident which took place above Caswell Bay on September 3, 2023. For the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox sign up to our newsletter.

The helicopter, a Robinson R44, was travelling from the west along the coast while the plane, a four-seater Piper PA-28, was flying south across West Cross. The helicopter pilot had not planned to cross the Swansea Air Traffic Zone but after requesting local traffic information and hearing several aircraft on frequency, proceeded to Rhossili Bay and across to Mumbles where they kept in contact with Swansea Radio.

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While travelling at approximately 1,200ft the pilot became aware of the fixed-wing aircraft "roughly head-on" and had little time to avoid it but started a rapid descent. The plane passed above the helicopter "sufficiently close that [the R44 pilot] could make out the tread on the tyres."

The pilot assessed a high risk of collision and expressed belief that if the other aircraft had been lower (or the helicopter higher) they would have crashed. The Airprox Board said the PA-28 pilot had not had time to react after the R44 was spotted. Although the R44 pilot took emergency action at the last minute, the board concluded neither pilot saw the other in time to materially increase the distance between the aircraft.

Its members concluded that if either aircraft had been fitted with additional EC equipment (electronic conspicuity; a term for technology to help pilots be aware of the surrounding airspace) both pilots would have been alerted to each others' presence far sooner. Join our WhatsApp news community here for the latest breaking news.