A total of 10 people died when a police helicopter crashed into Glasgow pub, the Clutha Vaults, on November 29, 2013.
An investigation will now be held to determine how the incident came about, but the Crown has decided there is not enough evidence to launch criminal proceedings.
A statement from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The investigation into the Clutha helicopter crash has reached a significant stage and Crown Counsel, the most senior lawyers in Crown Office, have formally instructed a Fatal Accident Inquiry be held.
“Following submission of a detailed report by the Helicopter Team, Crown Counsel have also concluded that there is insufficient evidence available to justify instructing criminal proceedings.
“In coming to this decision, Crown Counsel have considered the evidence available, and the recommendations of the inquiry team, and an assessment of what information may reasonably become available in the future has also been taken into account.
“Crown Counsel have instructed that the appropriate form of proceedings at this stage is an inquiry into the deaths of all who lost their lives in terms of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016. Although the evidence currently available would not justify criminal proceedings, the Crown reserves the right to raise criminal proceedings should evidence in support of that course of action become available to prosecutors.”
It added: “The Helicopter Team will now work with Crown Counsel to focus further on the issues that it is considered the inquiry should address and put in place in the preparations for initiating the formal procedure for an inquiry.
“The investigation by the police, with officers working closely with our Helicopter Team has, accordingly, necessarily been wide ranging. It has involved the collection and consideration of a significant volume of documentation, including highly technical manuals and guidance, as well as the taking of detailed statements from witnesses, including professionals in the aviation industry. Some of that material and information has been ingathered from organisations based abroad. In an investigation such as this, the Police and the Crown require to rely on the cooperation of companies and organisations in relation to, for example, provision of material and availability of witnesses for interview.
“COPFS appreciate that the wait for a decision regarding proceedings must have been extremely difficult and stressful for those affected and we will keep them informed of significant developments.”
Andrew Henderson a partner with Thompsons Solicitors represents dozens of victims of the Clutha tragedy and families of those who lost loved ones in the accident.
He said: “While it will be welcome news for our clients that there is now some movement by the Crown Office on beginning the FAI process its highly regrettable it has taken so long.
“The whole purpose of FAIs is to make recommendations that will stop similar tragedies happening in the future and therefor the process moving forward in a timely fashion is crucial. The fact that the inquiry is likely to begin almost five years after this awful accident is not acceptable.
“This again highlights what my law firm has long argued which is that the whole FAI system in Scotland needs to be overhauled so that inquires are held more quickly and that bereaved families are at the very heart of the process. I still believe that this is not the case.”