Clutha lawyers: Make black box recorders standard

There was no black box recorder on the EC135 that crashed into the Clutha bar. Picture: Getty
There was no black box recorder on the EC135 that crashed into the Clutha bar. Picture: Getty
Share this article
Have your say

LAWYERS for the family of a victim of the Clutha bar crash in Glasgow called today for black box recorders to be fitted as standard in passenger helicopters.

The demand came as the city council announced donations to the Lord Provost’s Clutha Appeal Fund to assist those affected had reached nearly £220,000.

The lawyers, acting for John McGarrigle, whose father of the same name died in the crash, claimed the equipment would assist the investigation of such incidents and provide “quicker answers” about their cause.

The Police Scotland Eurocopter EC135 which crashed on to the city centre bar three weeks ago, killing ten people, was below the minimum weight for such devices being required.

The British Airline Pilots Association has said this was because of the difficulty and expense of installing the sensors in smaller helicopters.

However, Irwin Mitchell, which described itself as the UK’s leading claimant aviation law practice, said the equipment should be standard on all commercial passenger-carrying helicopters.

Jim Morris, a partner in the firm’s aviation law team and a former RAF pilot, said the lack of a flight data recorder (FDR) or cockpit voice recorder (CVR) had hampered the quest for the cause of the crash.

He said: “While the [UK Department for Transport’s] air accident investigation branch has already issued a special bulletin on the crash, the lack of crucial FDR and CVR evidence has made things much more

difficult for the investigators.

“This is reflected by the fact that this special bulletin does not provide any answers as to how ten people lost their lives, leaving families and the city of Glasgow as a whole frustrated at what is now a difficult time of year for many.”

Mr Morris said: “If such equipment was fitted to the helicopter involved in the Clutha crash, investigators would have had far more comprehensive real-time information regarding the technical aspects of the flight and the actions of the pilot, as well as what may be vital voice recording data.”

The bulletin said investigators had found no initial evidence of engine or gearbox failure, but the main and tail rotors of the helicopter were not rotating when it struck the bar.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “Current regulations do not require helicopters weighing less than 3,175kg, such as the EC135, to be fitted with flight data recorders.

“The air accident investigation branch is still conducting an investigation into the cause of the accident and has the option to make safety recommendations if they feel it appropriate.”


Teenagers remanded on Clutha bar break-in claims