Helicopter Crash Lawyers Reveal Disappointment Regarding Government Stance On Inquiry

No Commitment From Transport Minister On Full Review Of Safety


Aviation lawyers representing victims of a series of high-profile helicopter crashes in the UK in recent years have revealed their disappointment following Transport Minister Stephen Hammond’s decision to not back a full inquiry into offshore helicopter safety.
Speaking in the Commons last week, he suggested that the primary concern for the Government at present would be to ensure that recommendations included in the Civil Aviation Authority’s review of the area are considered before any further action.
Irwin Mitchell represents victims and the families of those affected by offshore helicopter crashes in October 2012 and in August last year, as well as the crash of an Augusta Westland helicopter in Vauxhall, London in January 2013.
Lawyers in the Aviation Law team also work closely with colleagues in Irwin Mitchell Scotland in their work on behalf of victims of the Clutha Vaults helicopter tragedy in Glasgow last year.

Expert Opinion
It is disappointing that the Government appears to be stalling on adopting the recommendations of the Transport Committee’s report regarding a public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety.

"With Stephen Hammond stating that time should be given to allow authorities to act on recommendations previously made by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on offshore helicopter safety, we would also urge the Government to use this time to seriously consider whether – rather than purely focusing on offshore concerns – there is potential to broaden the scope of any future public inquiry to analyse the safety of all commercial passenger-carrying helicopter activity in the UK.

"The tragedies in Vauxhall and Glasgow last year are just two examples of incidents which have raised significant concerns regarding helicopter safety from an onshore perspective. An in-depth look at the oil and gas industry is of course vital, but the opportunity to consider broader analysis should not be ignored.

"We also remain convinced that consideration of the use of Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) black box systems on all commercial passenger-carrying helicopters operated in the UK airspace would be an important step for such an inquiry to consider. The present rules mean that helicopters below a certain weight, 3175kg, are exempt from having to carry this equipment, such as the Eurocopter EC135 that crashed into the Clutha pub in Glasgow.

"The EC135 is a modern twin engine helicopter that can carry up to seven passengers, so it is very concerning that the rules allow such a large helicopter to be exempt. Although the accident investigators identified that fuel starvation caused both engines to lose power, the reason(s) for the fuel starvation have not been revealed in an accident report seven months on from the Glasgow crash.

"FDR and CVR equipment could provide key information much earlier during the course of the accident investigation, meaning that vital lessons could be learned earlier and the loved ones of those involved could get prompter answers regarding the cause of such crashes."
Jim Morris, Partner