UPDATED: Police helicopter out of action after aborted takeoff

Police and Cayman Islands Airports Authority officials examine the police helicopter after it was damaged when its tail hit the ground at Owen Roberts International Airport on Tuesday. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

UPDATED FEB 27: The police helicopter is out of action after sustaining damage during an aborted takeoff Tuesday.

Engineers were still assessing the extent of the damage Wednesday afternoon and the cause of the incident remains under investigation.

A police spokeswoman said there had been a reported technical failure immediately after takeoff. No one was injured in the incident.

“The sudden aborted takeoff caused the tail of the helicopter to strike the ground, causing damage,” she said in a statement.

The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday while the helicopter was lifting off for a routine deployment. Later Tuesday, police, government and safety officials were assessing the damage, along with Police Commissioner Derek Byrne.

The U.K. Air Accident Investigation Board is tasked with investigating the cause of the incident.

Senior engineers from the helicopter manufacturer Airbus were scheduled to arrive on island Wednesday to assess the damage and conduct their own investigation. Meantime, the helicopter remains out of service.

“The period of downtime for the helicopter is unknown, pending damage assessment and the availability of replacement parts,” the police spokeswoman added.

A second helicopter, purchased with assistance from the U.K. government as part of a larger plan to expand the fleet and improve search and rescue capability in the region, is expected to arrive on island late summer.

The police helicopter after landing at the Owen Roberts International Airport Tuesday – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

ORIGINAL FEB 26: The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service helicopter is temporarily out of action after its tail struck the ground and was damaged during takeoff at Owen Roberts International Airport Tuesday afternoon.

According to police, just before 4:30 p.m.,  the helicopter “suffered an uncontrolled command failure” while lifting off at the airport on a routine deployment.  The sudden aborted takeoff caused the tail of the helicopter to strike the ground, causing damage.

Police said no one was injured during the incident.

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority was immediately informed of the incident and its staff were on site Tuesday evening, as were relevant emergency services.