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Helicopter expert probed over washing of Clutha crash aircraft

David Price, who worked at operators Bond at the time of the 2013 tragedy, has been giving evidence to the fatal accident inquiry.

The helicopter crashed through the roof of the pub in November 2013 (PA)
The helicopter crashed through the roof of the pub in November 2013 (PA)

An engineer has been questioned over washing practices for helicopters, including one which crashed on the roof of a Glasgow pub, killing 10 people.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) is taking place into the crash of the Police Scotland helicopter at the Clutha Vaults on November 29, 2013.

David Price was the director of engineering at the helicopter’s operators Bond when the crash happened, and six months later he moved to become head of maintenance and engineering at Babcock.

He was asked by Donald Findlay QC, representing the families of one of the victims, if he could recall when it was first established that water might enter the fuel system of the aircraft during washing.

Mr Price said it was in 2003.

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The Clutha reopened almost two years after the crash (PA)

Mr Findlay then asked that if there were checks in place before a wash, why were there none after.

The engineer explained they were primarily looking for water such as rain in the system, with a time period long enough for possible routes or sources of water to settle in the bottom of the fuel tank.

Mr Findlay asked: “If somebody says it might came in a compressor wash, why not check before and after? If I’m not being too simplistic.”

He then suggested “nobody had thought of it”, to which Mr Price replied: “That’s not what I said.”

The inquiry was also shown an email from Mr Price to helicopter manufacturers Eurocopter in which he expressed being “extremely unhappy” over the issue.

Pilot David Traill died in the crash along with helicopter crew members Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis.

Pub customers Mark O’Prey, Gary Arthur, John McGarrigle, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins, Samuel McGhee and Joe Cusker also died.

The inquiry, before Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull, continues at Hampden Park.

PA

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