Belfast Telegraph

Helicopter operator told to review safety management systems after fatal crash

Ireland’s Air Accident Investigation Unit continues to investigate the crash on Blackrock Island off the coast of Co Mayo.

The operator of an Irish Coastguard helicopter that crashed killing four crew has been told to review its safety management systems.

Investigators examining the loss of Rescue 116 off the west coast of Ireland in March last year said they had concerns regarding the “efficacy” of those systems.

While Ireland’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) continues to investigate the crash on Blackrock Island off the coast of Co Mayo, it published an interim statement on Friday.

The AAIU said operator CHC Ireland should ensure the “design of its processes and procedural adherence are sufficiently robust to maximise the safety dividend”.

The interim statement also recommended that the manufacturer of the helicopter involved should revaluate the performance of its flight data recording systems.

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Transport Minister Shane Ross has been urged to conduct a 'thorough review' of search and rescue operations in Ireland (Nick Ansell/PA)

The AAIU said Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation should make the necessary “updates/modifications” to ensure that latitude and longitude information stored was based on the most accurate position data available.

In a third recommendation, investigators said Transport Minister Shane Ross should conduct a “thorough review” of search and rescue operations in Ireland to “ensure that there are appropriate processes,
resources and personnel in place to provide effective, continuous, comprehensive and independent oversight of all aspects of these operations”.

Rescue 116 crashed on March 14 2017 with four crew on board after it struck Blackrock Island 12 miles off the Mayo coastline.

The bodies of winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith have never been found.

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Captain Dara Fitzpatrick died in the helicopter tragedy (Brian Lawless/PA)

Also on board were Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, the commander of the flight who died after being pulled from the sea in the hours after the crash, and Captain Mark Duffy, the co-pilot whose body was taken from the cockpit 12 days later by Navy divers.

The inquiry is trying to determine how Rescue 116 went down.

The AAIU has already established that the Sikorsky S-92’s internal warning system did not include the 80m (262ft) high rocky outcrop and its working lighthouse in its database.

The search and rescue helicopter crashed after hitting Blackrock Island while coming back from supporting a mission for an injured trawlerman out in the Atlantic.

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