Glasgow Police Helicopter Crash Raises ‘Significant Safety Concerns’

Urgent Answers Called For By Lawyer Representing Helicopter Crash Victims

01.12.2013

Expert aviation lawyers representing victims from recent helicopter crashes in the North Sea, Shetland and London say this latest in a string of Eurocopter crashes in Scottish airspace adds significantly to ongoing safety concerns. 

Lawyers say investigations into what caused a police helicopter to crash into a Glasgow pub must quickly identify what went wrong so that lessons can be learned and measures implemented to improve the safety of helicopter operations.
 
The latest fatal accident happened at 10.25 pm on Friday evening (29 November) when a Police Scotland helicopter - a Eurocopter EC135 T2 - came down on the roof of a crowded pub, the Clutha Vaults pub in Stockwell Street, Glasgow.

The police reported that there were three people on board - two police officers and a civilian pilot – who were killed, along with five others who were spending a Friday evening in the pub.  There are reports that 14 others are being treated for serious injuries in hospital.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist aviation law team represents injured victims as well as the families of many of those killed in aviation accidents around the world.

Jim Morris is a former RAF pilot and Partner in Irwin Mitchell’s aviation law team. 

Expert Opinion
News of this latest tragedy is clearly shocking and also raises significant safety concerns.

“It remains very early days in terms of the investigation of this tragic incident, so it would undoubtedly be unwise to speculate on likely causes until more information has been gathered. I anticipate that the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will shortly publish a Special Bulletin that will hopefully give an initial insight into the causes, but clearly they have a lot of work to do in what is likely to be a lengthy investigation.

“The Eurocopter EC135 T2 is a sophisticated twin engine helicopter so it is surprising that it plummeted into the roof of the pub. A problem with one engine should not have caused the crash so it is crucial to identify why it could not maintain height. Although helicopter pilots are trained to glide (auto rotate) helicopters following complete loss of power, the circumstances of this accident (low level, at night over a busy city) could have made it difficult for the pilot to glide the helicopter to an open space and land safely.

“The four Eurocopter Super Puma crashes into the North Sea since 2009 have involved failures that caused the twin engine helicopters to lose height (three of which involved gearbox related problems) so it is extremely important that the authorities, manufacturers and operators take all possible measures to ensure that there are no further incidents of this type and no further injuries or deaths as a result.

“All of those affected by the tragedy in Glasgow will want to understand exactly what went wrong and whether lessons should have been learned from the recent spate of Eurocopter and other helicopter disasters that would have avoided Friday's catastrophe.

“They will also want reassurances that lessons are learned for the future. There is also a need to reassure the public and those who travel in Eurocopters.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those killed and with those who have been injured in this latest terrible incident.”
Jim Morris, Partner

This leading legal team has significant experience in representing the victims of Eurocopter crashes. Current cases include representing passengers injured in the CHC Helicopters North Sea ditching of a Eurocopter Super Puma helicopter in October 2012 and the CHC Helicopters Eurocopter Super Puma crash near Shetland in August 2013. The causes of both these accidents are still being investigated although claims have been intimated against both Eurocopter and CHC.

Irwin Mitchell's aviation law team is also pursuing legal proceedings against Eurocopter in France following a fatal Eurocopter AS350 helicopter crash in the country in 2007.

The risk of helicopter accidents in the airspace over cities is obvious and was demonstrated in January 2013 when an Augusta Westland AW109 collided with a crane and crashed into the streets of London during rush hour. 

Irwin Mitchell's aviation law team also represent victims on the ground who suffered serious injuries in the London crash and this latest tragedy in Glasgow, which occurred close to Irwin Mitchell's Glasgow office, has further highlighted the ongoing risks associated with helicopter operations, especially flights over cities.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to aviation law.