A statement on the investigation into a gyrocopter crash in the Highlands has been released on the first anniversary of the accident – revealing the rotor head “separated” from the air craft mid-flight.
Paul Nichol, from Balloch, was flying a gyrocopter which crashed into a field near Avoch on November 12, 2020.
The 67-year-old sadly died at the scene.
Investigations by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are still ongoing one year on from the tragic accident.
Update on ongoing investigation
The AAIB released a statement on Friday providing an update on the circumstances surrounding the accident.
Mr Nichol, a civil engineer, was the pilot and sole occupant of the Rotorsport UK Cavalon, which resembles a mini-helicopter with a cockpit.
It has now been confirmed that the rotor head separated during the flight and the investigation is focused on determining why and how this happened.
The statement said: “Whilst on a general handling flight with a solo student pilot onboard, the gyroplane was seen to descend rapidly from an altitude of approximately 450 metres with the rotor head and blades separate from the fuselage.
“The gyroplane subsequently crashed on farmland and caught fire, with the pilot receiving fatal injuries.
“The main wreckage was largely destroyed in the fire, but analysis of the remaining evidence has been possible.
“The investigation is focused on understanding the circumstances which led to the rotor head separating in flight.
“Tests on the rotor head are on-going, along with analysis of the limited amount of data which has been recovered from a GPS unit mounted in the aircraft.”
The AAIB will publish its findings in a report once the investigation is completed.
One year on
Emergency services attended the incident, which took place at around 1pm on November 12, 2020.
The gyrocopter crashed into the hills between Munlcohy and Avoch on the Black Isle.
Police drafted in drones and appealed to anyone who witnessed the crash to get in touch during their investigation.
Following Mr Nichol’s death, his family shared a statement saying life would never be the same without him and that he died “whilst out doing something he loved so much”.
They said: “Words can’t express how much I’ll miss him, as will all his family, friends and past work colleagues.
“Nothing will ever get close to explaining the depth of pain and sadness we all feel.”