A helicopter crash in Russia in which two British men were killed was “quite extraordinary”, a coroner has said.
Mark Robertson and Rupert Beaumont, both 69 and from Hook, Hampshire, were on a fishing trip south of Murmansk last year when it happened.
The men’s inquest heard they had been dropped off by a helicopter which then toppled over. Its rotors caused them “catastrophic head injuries”.
Coroner Andrew Bradley recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Corporate lawyer Mr Beaumont and art dealer Mr Robertson had just left the Eurocopter aircraft, which had ferried them to a fishing spot popular with tourists, when the accident happened in July 2013.
The two anglers were killed instantly, along with their Russian guide, when they were struck by the helicopter’s rotors.
‘Push the boundaries’
The inquest in Basingstoke heard accident investigator Paul Hannant’s verdict was that the helicopter had made an “extremely hard landing”.
As a result, a bracket securing the landing gear sheared off, causing the helicopter to topple over.
Mr Bradley said there were problems with the case because the only witness to the crash was the 60-year-old Russian helicopter pilot, who told investigators it had been a “smooth landing”.
The dead men’s families raised concerns that the helicopter was being operated under a private rather than commercial licence.
The coroner said: “There seems to be some vested interest to get in and get out as quickly as possible. That might cause one to push the boundaries.”
Mr Bradley agreed to a request from the Beaumont family’s lawyer to ask the Air Accident Investigation Branch to approach their counterparts in Moscow.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Beaumont’s son James called the crash “a huge tragedy for all three families”.
“Our only aim now is to do what we can to ensure the risk of another accident is reduced.
“There exists a major concern the current operation in Russia does not have sufficient safety procedures in place,” he said.