Belfast Telegraph

Irish Coast Guard helicopter crash: Divers find 'black box' recording device of Rescue 116

By Robin Schiller

Divers have recovered the 'black box' recording device of the tragic helicopter Rescue 116.

Diving operations commenced off the Mayo coast in the search for three missing Irish Coast Guard members earlier on Friday.

"We're happy to announce the positive recovery of the data recorder at 16:30 today from the seabed just off Blackrock," Mr Whyte said.

"The recorder is now in the possession of one of my investigators, the investigator in charge Paul Farrell, and it's presently located on the Granuaile.

"During the night after some work we'll recover the recorder back to Dublin where it will be flown to the UK Air Accident Investigation branch where it will be further downloaded, hopefully successfully by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week."

Supt Tony Healy said that divers are continuing to operate near the Blackrock island and that further data will need to be analysed to determine if the three missing crew members are with or near the wreckage.

The Naval Service team were deployed shortly after 11.30am this morning from the Irish Light's vessel, the Granuaile.

An underwater robot had been used to carry out an examination of the wreckage of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, located in depths of 40m close to the Blackrock island.

Senior investigators stated that they were hopeful of progress being made throughout the day but stressed that information from the divers will need to be assessed before they can establish if the three crew men are with the wreckage.

Speaking at a press briefing this morning, Supt Tony Healy said: "This morning conditions are ideal, diving operations have commenced and we're waiting for reports back from the divers as soon as they come back on the surface."

He added that there was no indication at this stage if the three missing crew members- Mark Duffy, Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby- are with the aircraft's wreckage.

Jurgen Whyte of the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) said that it had not yet been established what caused the Rescue 116 helicopter to collide with the Blackrock lighthouse located 12km off the Mayo coast.

"As we said all along the important thing is that we get access to the cockpit voice recorder and the flight recorder. The priority has always been to recover the victims and if the divers happen to come across the recorder they will take the recorder. Because if we see it, we must take it because we can't leave it behind," he said.

A family liaison officer has been briefing the family members of the missing crew men on any developments in the search operation and investigation.

The Naval Service dive team will operate in pairs and will be able to spend nine minutes at the seabed before returning to the surface.

Air, shore and surface searches are also being carried out, with over 200 personnel from various agencies involved in the large scale operation.

Irish Independent

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