Saturday 20 January 2018

Rescue 116 family: 'We are devastated'

Review of helicopter after system failed to warn of rock

Two of the crew of Rescue 116: (left to right) Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciaran Smith
Two of the crew of Rescue 116: (left to right) Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciaran Smith
An Irish Coast Guard Helicopter lands at Blacksod Pier as the search continues for Rescue 116. Picture: Steve Humphreys
A Navy vessel off Black Rock lighthouse, where the search for Rescue 116 was concentrated Picture: Collins

Robin Schiller

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

A preliminary report 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.

The interim investigation also raised concerns over the locator beacons worn by the four crew members, which did not emit any signals upon its crash.

The bodies of two of the crew - Captain Dara Fitzpatrick (45) and Captain Mark Duffy (51) have since been recovered.

Their two colleagues, winch operator Ciarán Smith (38) and winchman Paul Ormsby (53) are still missing.

The Irish Coast Guard issued an emotional statement a month on from losing four of its colleagues, saying: "We will not leave you. You are not alone. Help is on its way. Hold hope."

Niamh Fitzpatrick, the sister of pilot Dara, said: "As a family, we are devastated and distressed for all the families involved." She added the family did not wish to comment on the Air Accident Investigation Unit report. The families of the crew members were briefed on the report before it was released.

Read more: Chilling final moments of R116 as crew realised imminent danger

Irish Independent

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