Huge 60m net to be used in new search off Mayo for helicopter's lost crewmen
A specially designed 60-metre-wide net will be used in fresh searches as part of the investigation into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash off the Irish coast earlier this year.
This weekend teams, including the Garda Water Unit, will survey Black Rock Island off the Mayo coast.
A search led by Supt Tony Healy has been relentless since the Sikorsky S-92 aircraft crashed some 12km off the west coast last March.
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith all died in the crash. The bodies of crewmen Ormsby and Smith have 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.
A spokesman for the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of the Republic's Department of Transport said: "The planned operation is a matter for An Garda Siochana 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 Siochana if so required.
"Later in the week there may be opportunities to conduct ROV (remotely operated vehicle) submarine operations."
He added that if opportunities arise action will be taken "to lift specific items of wreckage".
Meanwhile, broadcaster RTE has said that groups representing part-time and recreational pilots have discovered several omissions on official aeronautical maps covering Irish airspace, including that Black Rock island was not listed in the warning system of the Rescue 116 helicopter, so the pilots received no automatic warning before crashing into the rock in darkness.
A new map has since been published.
by robin schiller