Scotland business

Police renew contract with Clutha helicopter crash firm

Police Scotland have renewed their contract with the company which operated the helicopter that crashed into a Glasgow pub, killing 10 people.

The seven-year contract with Bond Air Services includes a helicopter fitted with a cockpit voice and flight data recorder.

Ten people died and 32 were injured after a police helicopter dropped out of the sky onto the Clutha pub roof on a busy Friday night in November 2013.

No black box recorder had been fitted.

Image caption The police helicopter crashed into the Clutha pub in Glasgow at 22.25 on Friday 29 November 2013.

Bond Air Services has since been bought by Babcock International, which in 2015 announced a turnover of £4.5bn.

Police Scotland said the new helicopter would be operational from 1 October 2016.

The Airbus EC135 T3 will replace the current model, an EC135 T2.

The lightweight, twin-engine craft will also be fitted with a Lightweight Aircraft Recording System (LARS) which will video helicopter flight systems and instruments within the cockpit.

Safety features such as a Helicopter Terrain Awareness & Warning System (HTAWS) and Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) will also be in place.

A report into the Clutha crash by the Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB) stated that whilst the recording equipment had not been formally required, it recommended it be put in place in the future.

'Well established relationship'

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: "Bond Air Services and Police Scotland have a well-established collaborative relationship and have worked together to find solutions to enhance the operational capabilities of Police Scotland air support whilst taking into consideration the AAIB recommendations.

"We are looking forward to working with them over the period of the new contract to ensure that our air support provision remains a vital part of our capacity and capability in how we serve communities."

He added: "Air support plays a crucial role in a wide variety of operational circumstances, from helping to trace vulnerable people to tracing offenders and carrying out other tasks in support of local and specialist policing across the country.

"The new helicopter will be fitted with technology which goes beyond current industry standards for this type of aircraft."

Andrew Flanagan, the chairman of the Scottish Police Authority, said: "The SPA set expectations that a renewed air support service for policing in Scotland should set the standard for safety in the UK, and we are pleased that this new contract delivers on that."

In January 2014, solicitors representing Bond Air Services accepted the firm was liable for the losses suffered by those killed or injured in the crash.

Image caption 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

Claims had been lodged under section 76 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982.

This states that where material loss or damage is caused to any person or property on land, by an aircraft while in flight, the owners of that aircraft are strictly liable.

In essence, the Act directs that the aircraft owner shall be treated as having caused the crash and the victims are automatically entitled to compensation without having to prove anything.

The Clutha pub, favoured for its live music events, was playing host to ska band Esperanza, and was packed with about 120 people when the tragic events began to unfold.

'No Mayday'

Seven customers and the three people on board the helicopter were killed after a police helicopter dropped from the sky onto the roof of the pub at 22.25 on Friday 29 November 2013.

There was no Mayday call from the pilot and the craft was low on fuel before the crash.

Those killed on board the helicopter were pilot David Traill, PC Tony Collins and PC Kirsty Nelis.

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

The pub was refurbished and re-opened in July last year with an emotional ceremony attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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