| 5.8°C Belfast

Experts to examine crash helicopter


Flowers left by comedian Billy Connolly near the Clutha bar helicopter crash scene in Glasgow.

Flowers left by comedian Billy Connolly near the Clutha bar helicopter crash scene in Glasgow.

Flowers left by comedian Billy Connolly near the Clutha bar helicopter crash scene in Glasgow.

Experts are examining the police helicopter which crashed into a crowded bar, killing nine people.

Tragedy struck at Glasgow's busy Clutha bar on Friday night when a police helicopter dropped "like a stone" on to the roof of the building.

Six people inside the pub and the three people in the helicopter died as a result of the crash which happened at around 10.25pm.

Investigations by Police Scotland and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) were launched in the aftermath of the incident and a preliminary report by the AAIB could be released within the next few days.

Air accident investigators have already stated that the helicopter pilot made no mayday call and that no black box data recorder was on board.

The wreckage of the three-tonne Eurocopter, which was removed from the scene on Monday, reportedly arrived by lorry at the AAIB base in Farnborough, Hampshire, yesterday.

While the AAIB would not comment on the reported development, a statement on the Crown Office website said the helicopter was being moved to Farnborough for "detailed examination".

Yesterday, Scotland's First Minister called for the crash investigation to be carried out as quickly as possible.

Alex Salmond told MSPs at Holyrood: "It is the task of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch to carry out its investigation and determine the cause of the incident. That investigation commenced on Saturday.

"We expect a preliminary report within the next few days, but full and final findings are not likely to be available for a number of months.

"We will make it clear that it would be very much in the interests of all concerned if that conduct and that investigation is carried forward as quickly as humanly possible."

At the last update, 11 people injured in the crash were said to remain in hospitals across the city.

The people in the bar who died were Robert Jenkins, 61; Mark O'Prey, 44; 33-year-old Colin Gibson; John McGarrigle, 57; 48-year-old Gary Arthur; and Samuel McGhee, 56. The crew members were pilot David Traill, 51, and officers Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43.

The bodies are being released to their relatives in a move was authorised by the procurator fiscal, Mr Salmond said, adding: "This will allow families, with the support and assistance of police family liaison officers, to make their funeral arrangements.''

Politicians across the political spectrum united yesterday to praise the solidarity and community spirit shown by the city following Friday night's fatal crash.

Both Mr Salmond and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg signed a book of condolence at Glasgow City Chambers.

Comedian and actor Billy Connolly, who grew up in the city, visited the scene to lay a bouquet of flowers and spoke of his devastation at what happened at the pub he used to frequent.

A fund to help bereaved relatives and survivors of the helicopter crash has been opened by the city council.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Scotland has published details online of the investigation process "to help inform grieving relatives of the next steps".

The COPFS has responsibility for leading the investigation into any sudden and unexplained deaths and deciding whether criminal proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry should be held.

Elaine Taylor, head of the health and safety division at the Crown Office, said: ''The technical investigation currently being carried out by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch takes precedence over other inquiries as it is responsible for ensuring the safety of other aircraft. This inquiry is complex and detailed and is likely to be some time before it reports fully.

''In addition to this inquiry, Police Scotland will continue with its investigation working with other agencies to carry out a separate investigation."

In the latest statement on its website, Eurocopter said: "Eurocopter is committed to continue working with all involved parties to determine as soon as possible the root causes of this tragic event and to identify any associated safety actions resulting from access to all relevant information."

The helicopter was owned and operated by Bond Air Services and leased to the Scottish Police Authority.

In its most recent statement, Bond said: "We, like everyone affected, want to know exactly what happened last Friday. We do, however, recognise that this will be a complex process which will take time to complete."