Saturday 20 January 2018

Internal review carried out by firm behind helicopter

An Irish Coast Guard Helicopter lifts off from Blacksod Pier Picture: Steve Humphreys
An Irish Coast Guard Helicopter lifts off from Blacksod Pier Picture: Steve Humphreys

Robin Schiller

An internal review is being carried out by the company who supplied the Rescue 116 helicopter after investigators raised concerns over the aircraft's on-board system used to identify hazardous obstacles.

A preliminary report issued by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) found the route guide for the Sikorsky S-92A helicopter did not have information displaying Black Rock, the 232ft-tall island which the aircraft hit before crashing into the sea 12km off the Co Mayo coast.

Interim investigations have also raised concerns over the locator beacons worn by the four crew members, which did not emit any signals upon its crash.

The report into the Irish Coast Guard helicopter tragedy shows the pilot had just seconds to try to change their course.

The company which supplied the Sikorsky S-92A aircraft, CHC Helicopter, says it has noted the safety recommendations made by investigators.

"CHC Ireland is grateful to the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) for its initial report. A review of all route guides in use is well under way as part of our own internal action," a statement said.

The mapping system, known as the 'Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System' (EGPWS), detects if the helicopter is close to coming into contact with terrain or obstacles. Honeywell, which supplies this system, said it cannot comment on any internal reviews during an active investigation. A source close to the investigation stressed the lack of data relating to the island is only the last link in a chain of incidents that form part of the formal probe.

The report into the Rescue 116 tragedy also noted discrepancies of 20 minutes in the two Flight Data Recorders used. However, an initial review shows the discrepancy probably occurred prior to the mission on March 14 and that the final minutes of the accident flight have been accurately documented.

The AAIU has also recommended that RFD Beaufort Ltd, the company which supply the life-jackets, should review the viability of the installation provisions and instructions for locator beacons on its Mk44 life-jackets. RFD Beaufort did not respond to requests for a comment.

Irish Independent

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