Thursday 22 February 2018

Special 60m net to be used in fresh searches for Rescue 116 crew

Pictured are the Dunmore Life Boats with the Waterford Coast Guard Helicopter 117 makes a flyby. Photo: Patrick Browne
Pictured are the Dunmore Life Boats with the Waterford Coast Guard Helicopter 117 makes a flyby. Photo: Patrick Browne

Robin Schiller and Alan O'Keeffe

A specially designed 60m 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.

The four crew members lost their lives in the crash.

The bodies of crewmen Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith have still not been recovered.

Senior investigators have said that a large trawler will be used as part of this weekend’s searches, with a specially designed 60m wide net brought in to assist 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 said: “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, they will do so.”

Meanwhile, it was reported on RTE 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.

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