Plane crash report to stay secret as appeal is lodged
THE publication of a report into an air crash that cost the lives of two Air Corps pilots has been halted after an appeal was lodged.
Flight instructor Captain Derek Furniss (32), from Rathfarnham in Dublin, and Cadet David Jevens (22), from Glynn, Co Wexford, died in October 2009 when their two-seater, high-speed Pilatus PC-9m turboprop training plane plunged into a Galway hillside on a training exercise.
Cadet Jevens's parents Donal and Liz have called for the report to be published as soon as possible because it may prevent "some other parents enduring unnecessary grief".
The highly technical report into the crash, which lists its probable cause, was completed two months ago by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), but its publication has been prevented by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.
The ban followed the triggering of a never-before-used clause in Irish air crash legislation. It was invoked by an appeal lodged by a so-far unidentified person.
"One of the interested parties is appealing. The department is precluded from providing any further information regarding their identity," a spokesman for the minister said.
"We cannot comment on the grounds of appeal."
A special clause allows for an appeal for a re-examination if a crash report's findings "appear to reflect adversely on the person's reputation or on the reputation of any person, living or dead." An executor, administrator or other personal representative may also lodge an appeal.
Mr Jevens said he could not elaborate on their comments, or on the contents of the report --, a copy of which he has seen. However, he denied he or his wife had lodged the appeal that triggered the ban.
"Any comment I make could jeopardise the completion of this report, forever," he said.
Leslie Byrne, the former partner of Captain Furniss, said she was also legally constrained from commenting. She said she could neither confirm nor deny that she had lodged the appeal.
An interim report into the accident published in November 2009 said no fault could then be found with the aircraft. Most of the AAIU's findings have emerged from an examination of black boxes recovered from the wreckage.
Investigators would have been able to reconstruct the aircraft's last moments of flight from highly accurate digital data recovered.
Several complicated and lengthy layers of re-examination can result from an appeal under the clause. In extreme instances, Mr Varadkar can appoint a public tribunal with judicial powers.
The department added that safety recommendations had been made by the report.
"All interested parties have received the final report and all appropriate parties who have been issued safety recommendations are aware of and responding to same."