Air Accident Investigation Unit

  • The Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Unit has said work on the report into the R116 Irish Coast Guard helicopter crash in 2017 is at "an advanced stage".

    A lengthy investigation by the AAIU has been ongoing for the past two years following the tragic collision on March 14, 2017.

    The four crew, pilot Dara Fitzpatrick, co-pilot Mark Duffy, winchman Ciaran Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby died after their Irish Coast Guard helicopter collided with Black Rock island off the Mayo coast.

    The Irish Independent is reporting that the AAIU released an interim statement in relation to its significant probe, in which it said that a draft report “is at an advanced stage.”

    Investigators have also said they will not be releasing a detailed interim statement on the anniversary as this would detract from their ongoing work.

    The AAIU are required to release an interim statement on the incident’s anniversary if the final report into an air accident investigation cannot be made public within 12 months.

    The investigation team previously made a number of recommendations following a preliminary report in April 2017.

    In September, Transport Minister Shane Ross called for the “speedy implementation” of these recommendations to address discrepancies in the oversight of Search and Rescue operations in Ireland.

    In total 12 recommendations were made in the report- ‘Review of Oversight of Search and Rescue (SAR) Aviation Operations in Ireland’-  which should be implemented on a short, medium or long term basis.

    The report found that there are inconsistent formal documents on SAR framework which create “potential confusion about who is responsible for the safety oversight” for SAR operators.

    It recommends that the Department of Transport “formally and clearly” assigns the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) with responsibility for the legal and safety oversight. This should be done urgently within a three-month period.

    The report, which did not examine the circumstances surrounding the Rescue 116 crash, also found that the Irish Coast Guard did not have the "necessary knowledge" to monitor regulations in the contract with CHCI, the company which provides the helicopters.

  • The final report has been issued into an aircraft accident in Co Galway last Summer.

    On 11th July 2020, the Cessna aircraft with one crew member and one passenger on board was en route from Rathcoole Aerodrome in Co Cork to the Tibohine Airfield in Co Roscommon to attend a "fly-in" in Tibohine.

    When the aircraft was close to Loughrea in Co Galway, the pilot noticed that the engine oil pressure was decreasing, and some oily smoke was emanating from the engine, followed by engine failure.

    The pilot made a MAYDAY call to Shannon Air Traffic Control to say he was carrying out an emergency landing.

    During the attempted landing in a field near Killimordaly, the aircraft hit the ground hard.

    While there was no fire, the aircraft sustained substantial damage.

    The pilot and passenger suffered multiple serious injuries in the impact, and were helped from the aircraft by two passing motorists.

    The pilot was airlifted to hospital, while the passenger was taken to hospital by road ambulance.

    The Air Accident Investigation Unit has today published its final report on the accident, saying the probable cause was the loss of control due to stall and wing drop of the left wing at a low height during the forced landing, following engine failure.

    There were no safety recommendations issued.

  • The man who died when his plane crashed outside Ballina on Friday evening has been named locally as Michael McCarrick, from Belleek, Ballina.

    Mr. McCarrick, who was in his late fifties, was killed instantly when his two-seater plane nosedived into a field at Breaffy, on the Bonninconlon side of Ballina.

    A post-mortem on the deceased man is due to take place tomorrow.

    The wreckage of the plane has been taken to Gormanstown, Co. Meath, for examination by technicians from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) who also visited the scene of the impact.

    No funeral arrangements have yet been made for the deceased.

  • A report into the Rescue 116 crash off the Mayo coast has recommended a thorough review of search and rescue operations in Ireland.

    This week marks one year since the Irish Coastguard chopper went down near Blackrock Island killing all four crew onboard.

    The bodies of Dara Fitzpatrick and Mark Duffy were recovered shortly afterwards however their colleagues Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby remain lost at sea.

    Today's interim report from the Air Accident Investigations Unit recommends the Transport Minister carry out a review to ensure effective, continuous and comprehensive oversight of all aspects of search and rescue aviation operations.

    It also recommends that the manufactures of the helicopter, should make updates to ensure latitude and longitude information is the most accurate during flights.

    Helicopter service company CHC should conduct a review of its operations to ensure they are sufficiently robust to maximize safety.

    On Wednesday family and friends and colleagues of the four crew members gathered in Blacksod to mark the first anniversary of their deaths.