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#Rescue116 - The 43rd annual People of the Year awards tomorrow night (Sunday 15 April) will see honours go to the Irish Coast Guard as a tribute to the crew of Rescue 116, as BreakingNews.ie reports.

In addition, the people of Erris in Co Mayo will be noted for their contributions to the search and rescue operation following the tragic loss of the helicopter’s four crew — Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith — on 14 March 2017.

Caitríona Lucas, the coastguard volunteer who died in a search operation off Kilkee a few months prior, will also be remembered on the evening, broadcast live on RTÉ One tomorrow from 9.30pm.

“The selfless actions of those who put their lives on the line, for the safety of others, means Caitríona, Dara, Ciáran, Mark and Paul will remain an inspiration to us all,” said Gerard O’Flynn, search and rescue operations manager with the Irish Coast Guard.

All five are set to feature in a new commemorative stamp colllection next year, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Next year’s commemorative stamp programme from An Post will feature a tribute to the four coastguard crew lost in the Rescue 116 tragedy one year ago.

RTÉ News reports that Caitriona Lucas, the coastguard volunteer who died during a rescue mission in September 2016, will be included as part of a series paying tribute to the work of the Irish Coast Guard.

Among other stamps due in 2019 will be one to mark 100 years since the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Galway by British aviators Alcock and Brown.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - The Air Accident Investigation Unit has called for “a thorough review of search and rescue aviation operations in Ireland” in the wake of the Rescue 116 tragedy one year ago.

Four Irish Coast Guard crew — Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith — were lost when their Sikorsky S-92A helicopter went down at Black Rock island, off Blacksod in Co Mayo, in the early hours of 14 March 2017.

The AAIU  confirmed in January that due to the “depth and breadth” of its investigation into the incident, a final report would not be completed within the first year, and progress would be detailed in an interim statement.

Published on Friday (16 March) days after commemorations in Mayo for the four Rescue 116 crew, this statement called on the Minister for Transport to conduct “a thorough review” of air-based SAR “to ensure that there are appropriate processes, resources and personnel in place to provide effective, continuous, comprehensive and independent oversight of all aspects of these operations.”

The statement also highlighted an issue with the “coarseness” of position data recorded by the helicopter’s flight data recorder, suggesting upgrades or modifications “to ensure that the latitude and longitude information recorded on the Flight Data Recorder reflects the most accurate position information available during all flight regimes and mission profiles.”

And it urged coastguard helicopter operator CHC Ireland to conduct an internal review of its safety management systems, or SMS, after the investigation raised “concerns regarding its efficacy”.
Interim safety recommendations included in last April’s preliminary report remain open, the AAIU says.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross welcomed the publication of the AAIU interim statement on Friday, and said he has asked his department to ensure that the recommended review of SAR aviation operations “is instigated without delay”.

“The aim of this review will be to ensure that our arrangements in this regard are sufficiently robust and measure up to international best practice models,” Minister Ross added.

Noting the length of the investigation, the minister said it was “important to emphasise” that the AAIU’s work remains in progress.

“Whilst I understand the ongoing public interest in this matter, it is vital that the AAIU is given the time and space to complete its work and report on its findings,” he said. “As such, I am not in position to comment further on the issues surrounding it.”

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - Today, Wednesday 14 March, marks one year since the Rescue 116 tragedy off Co Mayo.

Relatives of the four Irish Coast Guard crew lost in the crash attended a midnight vigil in Blacksod, as The Irish Times reports.

More than 100 people joined the local community in paying tribute to Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith, the latter two of whom remain missing.

Events will continue today with a Mass in Tirraunt and the laying of wreaths by the Naval Service’s LÉ Niamh and Irish Lights vessel Granuaile. The Irish Times has more HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Secondary school students taking part in this week’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RSD have identified a list of errors in navigational charts used by the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter crews.

As the Irish Independent reports, pupils from Pobalscoil Neasáin in Baldoyle, Co Dublin found that official air charts used by the coastguard had inaccurate locations for famous landmarks including Fastnet Rock and Skellig Michael.

At the same time as the Irish Aviation Authority appeals to SAR pilots to assist in making corrections to its latest charts, the second-year students flagged the mistakes in the course of their research for a prototype helicopter-mounted ultrasonic sensor.

The ‘EchoCopter’ would the terrain of the aircraft’s flight path in real time, providing supplementary data alongside the built-in EGPWS system.

It’s hoped that such a device might help avoid further tragedies such as the Rescue 116 crash last March, which took the lives of four experienced coastguard SAR crew.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - The Irish Aviation Authority has appealed to SAR and other pilots to help correct its latest aeronautical chart introduced this past summer, as The Irish Times reports.

The updated visual flight rules chart was published in response to the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) highlighting issues with navigation data uncovered during their investigation of the Rescue 116 tragedy, which remains ongoing.

It’s now emerged that pilots have been encouraged to report mistakes and omissions in the new chart, which is already known to indicate a number of lighthouses in the wrong positions, among other errors.

In other news, the company that operates the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter SAR services says its future profitability could be affected by potential legal and regulatory proceedings in the wake of the incident off Co Mayo in March this year.

The Irish Independent reports that CHC Ireland added the advisory to its latest accounts published for the Companies Registration Office.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - British SAR contractor Heli Operations has named its latest helicopter in tribute to Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, who died in the Rescue 116 tragedy earlier this year.

The Westland Sea King HAS.5, codenamed ZA116, will bear the name Dara with the full support of the Fitzpatrick family.

In a tweet with the news yesterday evening (Saturday 9 December), Dorset-based Heli Operations said it “has a long working relationship” with the Irish Coast Guard “and many of our crews worked with Capt Dara Fitzpatrick.”

Capt Mark Duffy, winchman Ciarán Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby also died after their Sikorsky S-92 went down at Black Rock, west of Blacksod on the Mullet Peninsula, in the early hours of 14 March 2017.

The bodies of Smith and Ormsby have not been recovered, though items of their survival gear were found in late September.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - Lifejackets worn by the crew of the downed Rescue 116 were not fit for purpose — and the operators of Ireland’s coastguard rescue helicopter service knew five years beforehand.

That’s according to a report set to be broadcast on RTÉ One’s Prime Time at 9.35pm tonight (Thursday 26 October), which reveals that pilots had warned management at CHC Ireland that locator beacons on supplied lifejackets were fitted too close to the GPS antenna, contrary to manufacturer’s guidelines.

“Effectively this means that the beacon could produce absolutely zero receivable transmissions,” said a 2014 safety report filed by one crew member, while another warned that “pilots are wholly exposed in the event of a ditching”.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit’s preliminary report in April recommended a review of the use of locator beacons on Mk 44 lifejackets used by the crew of Rescue 116.

The crash on 14 March caused the deaths of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick and Capt Mark Duffy. The bodies of Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith remain lost at sea.

While the installation issue only applies to the pilots’ lifejackets, which have since been withdrawn from service, the Prime Time report will also cover documents that identify similar issues with those worn by winch crew across the Irish Coast Guard fleet.

The new revelations come after a previous Prime Time report this summer said the issue of missing data from the helicopter’s onboard warning system was flagged four years ago with senior management at CHC Ireland, which won a 10-year contract to operate the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter SAR services in 2012.

Published in Coastguard

#Rescue116 - A lifejacket and helmet washed up on a beach near Blacksod in Co Mayo this weekend may belong to one of the two missing crew from the Rescue 116 tragedy earlier this year, as RTÉ News reports.

The items, which were attached together, were discovered on the shore near An Clochar yesterday morning (Saturday 30 September).

A detailed search of the area has been hampered by poor weather, with no other items found.

Winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith have been missing since the Irish Coast Guard helicopter went down at the island of Black Rock, west of Blacksod, on 14 March.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered at the scene but was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after. The body of Capt Mark Duffy was recovered some days later.

Elsewhere, the body of a middle-aged man was found washed up on Inis Meáin in Galway Bay last night.

RTÉ News says the discovery comes almost a fortnight to the day after a Russian national was swept into the water while sea angling near Doonbeg, some 36km south of the Aran Islands.

There was better news for the families of two fishermen feared missing in Galway Bay overnight, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Aran Islands RNLI and the Shannon-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 115 were involved in the search last night and early this morning for the pair when they were reported overdue.

But the search was called off around 10.30am when the small fishing boat, which has suffered technical issues in “challenging” conditions, returned to port under its own power.

Rescue 115 was earlier requested for a medevac from Inis Mór to University Hospital Galway.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds has paid tribute to the lives lost in the Rescue 116 and Kilkee tragedies ahead of his return from secondment in Somalia.

“The Coast Guard has lost five colleagues to accident and one, Daithi O’Cearbhallain, to cancer. I’ve lost six good friends,” said Reynolds, according to The Irish Sun.

“Not being at home and with my team in the Coast Guard has been very, very difficult,” he added.

“My first intention on my return in October is to visit our volunteer teams, co-ordination centres and helicopter bases to listen and understand how we will move forward.”

Reynolds was seconded to Somalia in July 2016 as part of an EU maritime security mission in the Horn of Africa.

Two months after his departure, coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

Six months later, Rescue 116 crashed at Black Rock in Co Mayo, claiming the lives of its four crew. Capt Dara Fitzpatrick and Capt Mark Duffy were recovered, but the bodies of winch men Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith were not found.

Published in Coastguard
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