Wednesday 17 January 2018

Rescuers use giant net to search R116 crash site

The search for the missing crew members goes on Photo: Steve Humphreys
The search for the missing crew members goes on Photo: Steve Humphreys

Robin Schiller

A specially designed 60-metre-wide net will be used in fresh searches as part of the investigation into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash.

Over this weekend, search teams, which include the Garda Water Unit, will carry out further surveys and searches of the area near Black Rock Island, off the Mayo coast.

The investigation and search operation, led by Supt Tony Healy, has been relentless since the Sikorsky S-92 aircraft crashed around 12km off the west coast last March.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith all lost their lives in the crash. The bodies of crewmen Ormsby and Smith have still not been recovered.

Senior investigators have said a large trawler will be used as part of this weekend's searches, with a specially designed net brought in to help the operation.

Favourable sea conditions have allowed the trawler to be deployed in fresh searches around Black Rock, and investigators will search for anything of further evidential value.

Searches were also carried out last week after a local fisherman recovered debris on the Mullet Peninsula.

A spokesman for the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) at the Department of Transport told the Irish Independent last night: "The planned operation is a matter for An Garda Síochána as it relates to a continuation of the search for the two missing crew members and the gathering of evidence.

"The AAIU remains on standby to assist An Garda Síochána if so required.

"Later in the week there may be opportunities to conduct ROV (remotely operated vehicle submarine) operations which the AAIU will attend."

The spokesman added that if opportunities arise during the search, action will be taken "to lift specific items of wreckage".

Meanwhile, it was reported on RTÉ 'News at One' that amateur associations and groups representing part-time and recreational pilots discovered several errors and omissions on their official aeronautical maps covering Irish airspace, and alerted the Irish Aviation Authority.

A new map has since been published. Black Rock Island was not listed in the obstacle warning system of the Rescue 116 helicopter, so the pilots received no automatic warning before crashing into the rock in darkness.

Irish Independent

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