Glasgow & West Scotland

Clutha Inquiry: Helicopter model 'had fuel indication issues in months after crash'

Clutha crash scene Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ten people died when the helicopter crashed into the Clutha in Glasgow

A pilot who flew the same model of helicopter which crashed into a pub still has faith in the aircraft despite experiencing fuel indication issues.

Ten people, including the pilot and two crew, died in the Clutha Vaults in Glasgow on 29 November 2013.

Captain Allan Bryers told a fatal accident inquiry that fuel indication issues arose in the model in the months after the tragedy.

Mr Bryers reported an issue with the EC135 he piloted on 10 December, 2013.

He told the inquiry, being held in a temporary court at Hampden Park, that when taking off and landing, the fuel indication level fluctuated on three flights during his shift that day.

The 48-year-old, currently a touring pilot for Babcock, was based at Barton airfield in Cheshire between 2012 and 2017 flying an EC135 - helicopter G-NWEM - used as an air ambulance.

Mr Bryers said: "On the day I remember taking off, seeing variations on the caution advisory display (CAD), indicating above and below volume on arrival and departure on all sectors. I'd never experienced it before."

He added that it "began on smaller amounts then progressed... but enough to be noticeable".

Gordon Lamont, advocate for the Crown, asked if he experienced any issues on 9 December, the day before, to which Mr Bryers replied: "I can safely assume no as I haven't recorded anything in the logs."

'I don't distrust the machine'

Four other incidents were also discussed which occurred after the crash in Glasgow - three with the G-NWEM helicopter - starting on 25 January 2014 with a fuel quantity indication failure.

A report from another incident two days later showed the fuel quantity fail caption appeared on the CAD while a patient was being transferred between Lancashire Hospital and Manchester Royal Infirmary.

When landing at Barton after being diverted, the fault cleared itself, the inquiry heard.

The third incident happened on 18 June of that year with the duel tank indications again reading inconsistent - firstly over and under by 3-5kg then 10-25kg.

The final fuel reading incident discussed affected another helicopter, G-KRNW, in Southampton on 11 September 2015.

When asked by Keith Stewart QC, representing the family of one of the victims, if the incidents had affected his confidence in the system, Mr Bryers said: "I don't distrust the machine... I still have faith in the aircraft."

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

Pilot David Traill, 51; PC Tony Collins, 43; and PC Kirsty Nelis, 36, lost their lives in the crash along with seven customers who were in the bar on Stockwell Street.

They were Gary Arthur, 48; Joe Cusker, 59; Colin Gibson, 33; Robert Jenkins, 61; John McGarrigle, 58; Samuel McGhee, 56; and Mark O'Prey, 44.

The inquiry continues on Thursday.

Clutha inquiry: The evidence so far

More on this story