Clutha helicopter law firm in public inquiry call

The scene of the Clutha helicopter crash. Picture: PA
The scene of the Clutha helicopter crash. Picture: PA
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LAW firm Irwin Mitchell, representing several victims of the Clutha bar helicopter crash in Glasgow, today backed calls for a public inquiry into helicopter safety.

Lawyers have also urged UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to review laws which exempt some helicopters from carrying “black box” flight recorders.

It comes a month after the Rail Maritime and Transport union called for an inquiry into the incident, in which ten people died after the Police Scotland helicopter crashed onto the Clutha Vaults bar in the city centre on 29 November.

The law firm is also acting for victims of several other helicopter crashes, including off Shetland last August.

The Commons’ transport committee has launched a review into North Sea helicopter safety, but Irwin Mitchell said a much wider investigation is now needed.

Clive Garner, the head of its aviation law team, said: “The tragedy in Glasgow has put a spotlight on the issue of helicopter safety, but the unfortunate truth is it is just the latest in a string of tragedies, and urgent action is now needed to ensure helicopter safety standards are reviewed and improvements made where necessary.”

“We have also reiterated our call for a review of current and pending regulations to ensure that ‘black box’ flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder equipment is required to be fitted to all commercial passenger carrying helicopters operating in UK airspace.

“In the Clutha Vaults tragedy, we have a sophisticated twin engine helicopter that crashed into a city but there is no black box evidence to assist the investigators and quickly identify the cause of this astonishing accident.

“The police helicopter was not required to carry this equipment because the applicable rule exempts helicopters which weigh less than 3,175kg.”

The Department for Transport said the crash investigation by its air accidents investigation branch was ongoing.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “An investigation into the cause of the Clutha tragedy is under way and we are working with the Civil Aviation Authority, Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the Crown Office to continue to offer assistance as it progresses.

“Aviation safety regulation is a reserved matter and this is ultimately a decision for others. However we stand ready to support the Department for Transport and wider industry in providing answers and clarity to the families of those affected.”