Monday 24 July 2017

Rescue 116 tragedy: Questions investigators will now look to answer

A Coast Guard helicopter takes off at Blacksod Pier. Photo: Steve Humphreys
A Coast Guard helicopter takes off at Blacksod Pier. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The preliminary report into the tragic Rescue 116 helicopter has been released, raising a number of questions which air accident investigators will now have to examine to get to the root cause of the crash .

These include:

How and why was the data about Blackrock missing?

The Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) did not include up to date information on Black Rock island and its lighthouse.

Rescue 116 had a warning system for low altitude but that did not include information for the terrain around Black Rock island
Rescue 116 had a warning system for low altitude but that did not include information for the terrain around Black Rock island

Honeywell, the manufacturers of the system made a statement to investigators stating that the "lighthouse obstacle is not in the obstacle database and the terrain of the island is not in our terrain database".

Aviation expert, retired Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Byrne, spoke with Pat Kenny on Newstalk, this morning and described the statement as a "strange thing to say".

The report redacts which supplier the manufacturer sourced the information about the area from.

The company also states that having looked at data from other sources it appears "the actual altitude of Black Rock is considerably higher than what is indicated in these alternative data sets".

The AAIU is continuing to investigate the reason for the missing data.

Black Rock was included on some maps which were available on the helicopter systems but not all of them - another anomaly investigators will now have to look at.

Is it possible other anomalies exist in data used by pilots?

Lt Col Byrne said this was a major concern which would have to be queried further.

Why didn't the crew see a signal from the lighthouse?

It is believed the lighthouse was in working order but Mr Byrne pointed out that the lighthouse is designed for maritime use and its signal is not multi-directional so it may not have been visible from above. Mist and fog could also have played a part in concealing the signal from the lighthouse, Mr Byrne said.

Why didn't the crew's locator beacons work?

Locator beacons on the crew's life jackets did not signal as they were designed to after the crash - they would have signalled to rescue crews. It is suggested that the reason for this is that they were kept in the same pocket as a GPS device.

This was in accordance with a picture provided by the manufacturer for safe use, but did not allow a separation of 30cm which is recommended.

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News