Door falls off Minister's helicopter

Monday 02 March 2009 22.43
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Killarney - Helicopter lost door
Killarney - Helicopter lost door
Martin Cullen - Addressed IHF in Killarney
Martin Cullen - Addressed IHF in Killarney
AW 139 - Can fly with open doors in certain circumstances
AW 139 - Can fly with open doors in certain circumstances

A helicopter carrying Minister for Tourism Martin Cullen was forced to make an emergency landing in Killarney this afternoon.

Mr Cullen had just finished addressing the annual conference of the Irish Hotels Federation and the Air Corps AW 139 had taken off from the grounds of the Malton Hotel in Killarney.

The left door of the helicopter fell off at a height of 150 metres as it flew over Killarney National Park in Castlerosse.

The helicopter made an emergency landing nearby at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.

No one was injured in the incident.

Witnesses say Mr Cullen, who was flying with an assistant and a crew of three, was shaken following the incident.

He continued his journey by road to Kerry Airport from where a second AW 139 helicopter, which was diverted from a training exercise in Cork, picked him up and is returning him to Dublin.

The Defence Forces said in a statement that the aircraft is on the ground until a Military Airworthiness Inspection Team and technicians from Air Corps HQ examine it.

This team will fly to Kerry to assess the helicopter and it will be moved after the inspection.

The passengers had boarded the helicopter through the right-hand side door before take off.

The same helicopter brought Minister Cullen from Waterford to Killarney this morning and was returning to Dublin when the incident occurred.

According to the Defence Forces, the AW 139 can fly with doors open under certain speeds, but this is normally in military and winching roles.