Friday 23 June 2017

Six separate teams to painstakingly probe crash

Ralph Riegel, Paul Melia and Treacy Hogan

SIX separate investigations are under way into the Manx2 Airlines crash which claimed the lives of six people.

The American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed it is sending three investigators to assist in the investigation.

The NTSB is also able to investigate accidents outside the US if it involves a civil aircraft of US Registry, a US operator, or an aircraft of US design or US manufacture.

In the case of yesterday's crash in Cork, the aircraft was manufactured in the US by San Antonio, Texas-based Fairchild Swearingen.

If necessary, experts from the plane's US manufacturers, Fairchild, will also be consulted.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night refused to comment on speculation about what caused the worst airport accident in Irish aviation history.

He said it was crucial that investigators be allowed get on with their job.

"I think it is important that we allow the independent air investigation unit proceed with their full investigation. They will issue a preliminary report in a matter of weeks, perhaps next month," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Cowen said it was then imperative that the investigation team be allowed complete their thorough and detailed full report.

However, six investigations are now set to take place.

Three will take place in Ireland -- and will include probes by the Air Accident Investigation Unit and the Irish Aviation Authority.

There will also be a probe by the Manx2 in-house air accident investigation team.

The airline team flew into Cork Airport at 2pm -- with the AAIU team having arrived at Cork Airport by helicopter at 12 noon.

However, because the plane was owned by a Spanish firm and left a British airport investigations will also be undertaken by British and Spanish officials.

Mr Cowen said these probes will be facilitated in every possible way.

The Head of the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), Jurgen Whyte, said yesterday that while a preliminary report could be expected in March, the full investigation would take months to complete.

"The preliminary report could be available in one month," he said. "It will purely identify the basic facts and could be just one or two pages. Investigations have taken up to two years, depending on the complexity of the event itself."

The AAIU is responsible for the investigation of aircraft accidents and serious incidents within Ireland, and in certain cases to Irish-registered aircraft abroad.

An independent agency -- the Chief Inspector of Accidents -- reports directly to the Minister for Transport.

The investigation is being headed by Leo Murray, a pilot, who arrived at Cork Airport shortly before noon yesterday on an Air Corps helicopter from Baldonnell. A team of at least four people will conduct the investigation, and attempt to discover what caused the Manx2 commuter flight from Belfast, flight number NM7100, to crash on landing at Cork Airport.

Eyewitnesses will be interviewed and radar, weather and air-traffic control data reviewed for clues as to what happened.

The condition and maintenance of the aircraft will also be subject to an indepth probe.

Mr Whyte said the priority for investigators was securing the flight recorders.

They will help explain why the pilot attempted to land the aircraft three times.

Irish Independent

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