Fatal accident inquiry to be held into Clutha helicopter crash

Lawyers representing victims of the Clutha tragedy that claimed the lives of two Police Scotland officers are hoping a long-awaited fatal accident inquiry (FAI) will lead to changes in legislation over the recording of vital flight data.

Nov 27, 2017

Lawyers representing victims of the Clutha tragedy that claimed the lives of two Police Scotland officers are hoping a long-awaited fatal accident inquiry (FAI) will lead to changes in legislation over the recording of vital flight data. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has announced the FAI’s first hearing is set to begin in the autumn of 2018 – five years after the police helicopter crashed into a Glasgow pub killing ten people. In announcing the inquiry, COPFS has confirmed that no criminal charges would be brought after the helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed while returning to base on the banks of the river Clyde on November 29, 2013. Its crew – Police Constables Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis and force civilian pilot David Traill – died along with seven customers in the Clutha – John McGarrigle, Mark O’Prey, Gary Arthur, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins, Samuel McGhee and Joe Cusker. Another 31 were injured on the ground. Solicitors Irwin Mitchell Scotland, representing 16 others affected by the crash, believe an FAI will lead to “more lessons being learned” about both the accident itself and its aftermath. “One of the issues with this crash was the helicopter was not required to be fitted with a black box recorder which means vital data was not recorded,” said Mr David Bell from the legal firm. “We think the regulations should be changed to ensure all smaller passenger aircraft are required to have black box recorders fitted.” Earlier this month victims of the tragedy were reportedly awarded £1.3 million damages from the owners of the helicopter firm. Solicitors for ten people injured in the crash said their cases had now been settled, helping them “get their lives back on track”. Mark Gibson of Digby Brown Solicitors said: “The Clutha tragedy was an unprecedented event that caused devastation for hundreds, if not thousands, of people across the country.” Compensation claims were made to Babcock, which owns operators Bond Air Services, for post-traumatic stress, serious brain or spinal injuries. In 2014, solicitors representing Bond Air Services accepted responsibility for the losses of those affected by the incident. However, because the vehicle was not equipped with recording devices, it was impossible for investigators to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident, such as why no mayday call was sent out. A report published in 2015 by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the pilot did not follow emergency protocol and flew on despite low fuel warnings. It said fuel transfer pumps were turned off and a controlled landing was not achieved for “unknown reasons”. The AAIB therefore recommended black box recorders were installed in future models.

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