Black box recorder in police helicopter after Clutha tragedy report

A NEW Police Scotland helicopter will be fitted with a black box recorder in line with ­recommendations following the Clutha tragedy.

Tarpaulins cover the wreckage of the Police Scotland helicopter which plunged through the roof of the Clutha Bar in Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry

In addition to the standard equipment, the aircraft will have a cockpit voice and flight data recorder, or black box recorder, unlike the force helicopter which crashed through the roof of the Clutha bar in Glasgow on 29 November 2013, claiming ten lives.

An Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) report into the tragedy recommended equipment to record data, audio and images be made compulsory for police aircraft.

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Further additional safety features in the new aircraft include a recording system to video helicopter flight systems and instruments within the cockpit, a helicopter terrain awareness and warning ­system, and an emergency locator transmitter.

Bond Air Services will ­provide the Airbus EC 135 T3 helicopter to replace the ­current EC 135 T2 model after winning a seven-year £17.9 million air support contract.

The firm, which provided the EC 135 T2 Clutha helicopter which crashed, had the Police Scotland and Scottish Police Association (SPA) contract renewed following a competitive tendering and procurement process.

Police Scotland 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.

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

SPA chairman Andrew ­Flanagan 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.”

The AAIB report found two fuel supply switches were off in the Clutha crash helicopter and the pilot did not follow emergency procedures after a fuel warning in the cockpit.

Pilot David Traill, Pc Tony Collins and Pc Kirsty Nellis died on board the aircraft and John McGarrigle, Mark O’Prey, Gary Arthur, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins and Samuel McGhee were killed in the pub. Joe Cusker was pulled from the wreckage alive but later died in hospital.

The bar reopened last July, 20 months after the disaster.