UPDATED: Liskeard helicopter firm confirms ownership of London crash chopper
THE LISKEARD company which owned a helicopter that crashed in London today has expressed its sympathies to those affected by the accident.
Castle Air Limited has confirmed that its Agusta A-109E aircraft crashed this morning in Vauxhall.
It is believed to have hit the top of a crane, causing it to spiral out of control and burst into flames at the peak of rush-hour around 8am.
The helicopter, which is leased to RotorMotion, based at Redhill Aerodrome, was on a scheduled flight from Redhill in Surrey to Elstree in London when it was diverted.
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Two people, including the pilot, have been confirmed dead and a further casualty is critical following the crash.
Managing Director at Castle Air Limited, Ross Bunyard, said: "The helicopter was on long-term lease to another operator and we are not in a position to make any further comment beyond expressing our sympathies and condolences to all those affected by the accident.
"We have nothing further to say at this time and are unable to answer any questions."
The helicopter pilot who died has been named locally as Pete Barnes.
Mr Barnes' career in the past 18 years included flying a helicopter for Newcastle's traffic and travel service and flying the air ambulance.
He has also flown helicopters in television programmes, films and adverts, including James Bond movie Die Another Day, Saving Private Ryan and Tomb Raider II.
Rotormotion, which is based at Redhill Aerodrome, said he has worked freelance for them since 1997, adding: "We often get repeat business from clients, who request him for both his piloting skills and his relaxed charming manner."
London Ambulance Service said six people were taken to hospital, including one with a broken leg.
A further seven people were treated at the scene.
Witnesses reported seeing a "massive ball of flames" and a deafening "explosion" after the helicopter crashed into the ground, raining debris throughout the area.
The eight-seater aircraft hit a crane in Vauxhall, south London, sending shocked residents, commuters and construction workers running "for their lives".
Witnesses suggested that the helicopter plunged more than 60 storeys to the ground as the crane remained precarious.
The accident happened in one of the busiest parts of the capital. More than 60 firefighters and eight fire engines tackled the blaze.