Rescue 116: final crash report expected to take some time

Air Accident Investigation Unit hopes to issue interim statement on inquiry before first anniversary

Four Irish Coast Guard air crew – Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith – died when their helicopter collided with Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14th last year

Four Irish Coast Guard air crew – Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith – died when their helicopter collided with Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14th last year

 

The Air Accident Investigation Unit’s final report into the crash of the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter off the north Mayo coast last March is not expected to be issued for some time.

The State air accident investigator says that it is still gathering factual and background information and is making “steady progress”, but will not have the final report within a year of the crash.

Four Irish Coast Guard air crew – Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith – died when their helicopter collided with Blackrock island off the north Mayo coast in the early hours of March 14th,2017. The bodies of the two winch crew are still missing in spite of extensive searches.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the AAIU said it was endeavouring to issue an “interim statement” on the progress of the investigation and any safety issues raised before the first anniversary of the crash.

Its preliminary report, issued last April, ruled out mechanical failure but highlighted issues with quality of navigational data and systems available to the crew, along with faulty functioning of locator beacons in their lifejackets

In its statement, the AAIU said it “again extends its condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this accident”.

“International convention, and associated national and European legislation, require that, if a final report cannot be made publicly available within 12 months of the date of the accident, an interim statement detailing the progress of the investigation and any safety issues raised, will be made publicly available,” it explained.

‘Depth and breadth’

“The AAIU wishes to advise that due to the depth and breadth of this investigation, it will not be possible to issue a final report within 12 months of the date of the accident and therefore an interim statement will be published,”it said.

“The investigation is endeavouring to issue this interim statement before the anniversary; however, it is not possible to say at this time when the interim statement will be published.”

The Health and Safety Authority and Garda Síochána have also been conducting investigations into the crash.

The AAIU preliminary report recommended that CHC Ireland, which provides the helicopter service for the Irish Coast Guard, review and re-evaluate all route guides used by search and rescue helicopters . It also identified a flaw in installation of locator beacons on the crew lifejackets.

CHC Ireland has said it has “established, documented and implemented an integrated safety system” and continues to collaborate with others, including regulators to improve safety across the rotorcraft industry.