Glasgow & West Scotland

Justice secretary urges Westminster to act on Clutha report

Clutha helicopter crash scene Image copyright PA
Image caption Ten people died as a result of the helicopter crash in November, 2013

The Scottish justice secretary has urged the UK government to follow the Clutha crash report recommendations on flight recorders in helicopters as soon as possible.

The long-awaited Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report was published on Friday.

It called for recorders to be fitted in all emergency service helicopters.

The Department for Transport said it was reviewing the recommendations of the AAIB report.

Ten people died when the Police Scotland helicopter crashed through the roof of the Clutha bar in Glasgow.

The report concluded that two fuel supply switches were off in the helicopter.

The AAIB report also said Captain David Traill did not follow emergency procedures after a fuel warning in the cockpit.

The report recommended the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) should require all emergency service helicopters to be fitted with "black box" recorders and the Scottish government said "any steps that could help prevent another tragedy like this one must be taken".

Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has now written to UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin asking the UK government to "do all that is within its power to ensure that these recommendations are taken forward as quickly as possible".

Image caption Clutha victims: (Top: left to right) David Traill, PC Kirsty Nelis, PC Tony Collins, Gary Arthur, Samuel McGhee (Bottom: left to right) Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins, Mark O'Prey, John McGarrigle, Joe Cusker

Capt Traill died alongside police constables Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis.

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

The incident happened on the night of 29 November, 2013.

Mr Matheson said: "While the report sets out the factual circumstances of the accident, it is disappointing that - after two years of investigation - the report does not reach a clearer conclusion and raises more questions than it answers.

"Scottish ministers share the profound disappointment of the families that it does not provide the closure they sought.

"The report makes a number of recommendations including requiring all police and emergency medical helicopters currently in use to be fitted with equipment to record data, audio and images with flight recorders fitted in aircraft certified after 1 January, 2018.

"These 'black boxes' can be vital in establishing all the circumstances and actions leading to a crash.

"I appreciate that these are recommendations made to the European Aviation Safety Agency as the legislative authority and the CAA as the UK regulator.

"However, on behalf of the families who lost loved ones in the crash, I would seek reassurance that the UK government will now do all that is within its power to ensure that these recommendations are taken forward as quickly as possible.

"Any steps that could help prevent another tragedy like this one must be taken."

When the Clutha report was published, the CAA issued a statement which said it assisted the AAIB with its investigation and was "studying the report and its recommendations".

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "We support all appropriate safety improvements such as those associated with data recorders and work closely with international partners and industry to implement any beneficial changes that can be made.

"We are currently reviewing the AAIB recommendations made following this tragic accident. Recent technological advances mean that some newer light weight flight recording devices are now available and we will study these and all other options."

In a joint statement, Mr McLoughlin and Scottish Secretary David Mundell added: "Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those killed in this tragic accident. We welcome publication of the final report into the Clutha helicopter accident and thank the AAIB for their diligent and painstaking investigation."

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