Pilot in fatal helicopter crash tells how ‘world ended’ when aircraft ditched

A pilot has told a Fatal Accident Inquiry his “world ended” when the helicopter he was flying crashed into the North Sea, killing four passengers.

Martin Miglans said in a statement he struggles to remember immediately prior to the crash until the “horror and shock of seeing the sea”.

Mr Miglans, his co-pilot and 12 other passengers survived when the Super Puma ditched on its approach to Sumburgh Airport, Shetland, in 2013.

Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray; Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness; Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire, died in the incident.

The FAI, which is being held virtually, heard from Mr Miglans’ written statement, in which he said: “It has destroyed my head. My world ended with that crash.”

The “cockpit filling with water catches me everyday”, he added.

He said he has no memory of speaking on a recording recovered from the aircraft, even after hearing it, saying he experiences “complete dissociation” from it.

“I just remember coming out of the cloud and there being water and that is it,” he said in the statement.

“It is wrong and I am pulling as hard as I can… it is all lost by then.”

He added: “That is my nightmare to this day. I didn’t understand how it could have happened.”

Mr Miglans said he cannot remember check-height alerts prior to the crash, only the “horror and shock of seeing the sea”.

The pilot said he sustained a fractured spine, now walks on crutches and will never fly again.

He also wrote that he has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder but does not want treatment or sympathy, and all he has in his life is the crash and the inquiry, which has been “hanging over” him for seven years.

The inquiry also heard from Philip Sleight, deputy chief inspector of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

He read parts of an AAIB report, published in 2016, which found the pilots failed to properly monitor the flight instruments and failed to notice their airspeed was decreasing until it was too late to avoid the Super Puma plunging into the sea.

A statement of agreed evidence confirms no mechanical fault was discovered with the helicopter, which was returning from the Borgsten Dolphin support vessel to Sumburgh Airport.