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Rescue 116: New Report Says Missing Data On Blackrock Flagged Years Before Crash

14th July 2017
Data on the island off Co Mayo was missing from Rescue 116’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, or EGPWS Data on the island off Co Mayo was missing from Rescue 116’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, or EGPWS Photo: Commissioners of Irish Lights

#Rescue116 - A new report reveals that the absence of data on Black Rock from Rescue 116’s onboard warning system was flagged with the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter operators years before the fatal crash earlier this year.

Captains Dara Fitzpatrick and Mark Duffy, along with winch operator Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby, died after their Sikorsky S-92 went down at the small Co Mayo island, west of Blacksod on the Mullet Peninsula, in the early hours of 14 March 2017.

Four months on and despite exhaustive searches of the area, the remains of Smith and Ormsby have not been found.

April's interim report into the tragedy suggested that the helicopter had been flying using a pre-programmed route that was missing specific data relating to Black Rock, while en route to a planned refuelling stop at Blacksod.

Now a report from RTÉ’s Prime Time says the issue of the missing data was raised four years ago with a senior manager at CHC Ireland, which won the 10-year, €500 million contract to operate Ireland’s helicopter SAR services in 2012.

The Irish fleet of long-range SAR helicopters was equipped with an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, or EGPWS, in 2013.

That year, Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard pilots noted that Black Rock was missing from the EGPWS during routine test flights in the area.

However, Prime Time learned from a source that weeks after the incident, coastguard staff were told management were looking  into whether that information had been passed on to those responsible for updating the system’s obstacle database.

That same database was found just days after the Black Rock accident to have incorrect information for Skellig Michael, listing it as just 56m rather than its actual 217m height, though this has since been corrected.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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