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Helicopter crash: engineers need to consider low probability high impact events

Temporary Works Forum technical secretary John Carpenter said the devastating helicopter crash into a tower crane heightened the need for engineers to consider low probability high impact events.

With increased levels of traffic and taller buildings outside of the traditional high rise areas of the City of London and Canary Wharf, incidents such as helicopter strikes should be considered by designers said Carpenter

“Engineers need to take a risk based approach and ask whether something like a helicopter strike is likely,” said Carpenter.

But Carpenter warned against any over reactions.

“If the assessment makes the crane four times bigger than you could argue it against it,” added Carpenter.

His comments come after a two-seater helicopter crashed into a tower crane in Vauxhall yesterday killing two and injuring a further nine.

Structural engineer on the Shard WSP structures director Kamran Moazami said although helicopter impact was not specifically designed the building can withstand much larger impacts.

“Any building of Shard nature is capable of sustaining much higher impacts,” said Moazami, “Of course there will be some cosmetic damages but structure will easily sustain the load.”

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