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Displaying items by tag: Rescue 116

A European pilots’ organisation has expressed alarm at the delay in publishing the final report into the loss of four air crew in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash off the Mayo coast four years ago.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, European Cockpit Association (ECA) president Captain Otjan de Bruijn has also questioned why Ireland had adopted a “rare procedure” where an aviation accident investigation can be re-examined before publication.

An air accident investigation must be published to ensure key safety lessons can be learned “swiftly”, Capt de Bruijn said, and he has urged release of the report “without delay”.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy and winch team Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith died after their Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-92 helicopter crashed at Blackrock island off the north Mayo coast on March 14th, 2017.

The four Dublin-based helicopter crew were providing “top cover” communication for the medical evacuation of a crewman from a British-registered fishing vessel off the west coast.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) issued a preliminary report and a series of interim reports, and a final draft report was given to families and stakeholders in late 2019, with a 60-day period for submissions.

However, its publication was put on hold by a request in January 2020 by an unidentified stakeholder for a review, which was granted by Ryan’s predecessor, Shane Ross.

The ECA president said that the final report was due in January 2020, and it “is an extremely long delay for publishing a report”

Capt de Bruijn said that during these four years, “possible safety-critical flaws have remained unaddressed – something we are quite alarmed about”.

“Any deficiencies that have been identified in the accident investigation must be made public, out in the open so they can be fixed swiftly. In the interests of passenger safety, we urge the Irish AAIU to release the report without delay,” he said.

“We are not aware of any other similar cases across Europe of a re-examination of the technical work of an independent technically qualified organisation by a body with limited expertise in aviation accident investigations,” Capt de Bruijn said of the review board option.

“This rare procedure could be a slippery slope allowing for undue influence over the investigation process and its findings, and clearly has resulted in an unhelpful delay in the publication of the report,” he said.

“Let us not forget that the final report contains safety-critical recommendations that are valuable – and potentially life-saving – lessons for the aviation system in and beyond Ireland,” he said.

The Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) has already questioned the decision to include a review in the Irish legislation, and said the review “does not comply with the standards and recommended practices laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)”.

The Department of Transport said, “the review board is independent in its work in accordance with the 2009 Regulations and the timeframe for the board to carry out the re-examination is a matter for the chairperson to determine”.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Coastguard
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Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has appointed a new review board into the Air Accident Investigation Unit’s (AAIU) final report on the Rescue 116 helicopter crash.

As The Irish Independent reports today, the review experienced a setback last month when the technical advisor Philip Hanson, an aviation expert with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, stood down over a potential conflict of interest.

However, Mr Ryan has established a new board to review aspects of the unpublished AAIU final report into the crash, which claimed the lives of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy and winch team Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith off the north Mayo coast in March 2017.

The minister has opted to re-appoint senior counsel Patrick McCann as chairman and sole member of the review, following legal advice from the Attorney-General.

Mr McCann was chair of the previous review which was established by former transport minister Shane Ross earlier this year, and Mr Hanson was appointed as technical expert.

In a parliamentary response to Galway West Independent TD Catherine Connolly, the transport minister says the new timeframe for the re-examination of the final report is “ a matter for the chairperson to determine” as the board is “entirely independent in its work”.

Relatives of the four air crew are now waiting over three-and-a-half years for the final report into the Sikorsky S-92 collision, which occurred at Blackrock island, Co Mayo, while the helicopter was approaching Blacksod lighthouse to refuel.

The four Dublin-based crew were providing “top” cover” or support to a medical evacuation off the west coast by the Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter.

The bodies of the two winch crew have not been found in spite of extensive searches.

A draft of the final report was given last November to the families of the four crew and stakeholders including their employer, CHC Ireland, with a 60-day period for submissions or comments.

However, its publication had to be put on hold when Mr Ross acceded to a request for a “notice of re-examination” by an unidentified stakeholder.

Under Ireland’s Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009, a review can be applied for by an “interested party” in relation to “findings and conclusions that appear to reflect adversely on the person’s reputation”.

A Department of Transport spokeswoman said the minister was notified of Mr Hanson’s alleged conflict of interest on September 22nd. She said Mr Hanson did not receive any payment for his work on the review board over the past six months.

CHC Ireland has declined to say whether it sought the review. It was the first request of its type in the AAIU’s history of undertaking air crash investigations.

The AAIU had ruled out mechanical fault early on, and made recommendations in a preliminary report published a month after the helicopter crash, relating to anomalies in chart information software and a flaw in installation of locator beacons on crew life-jackets.

In its first interim report, the AAIU highlighted failures of oversight for search and rescue by the State.

It also recommended a review of safety management systems by CHC Ireland; and it identified a software issue with data recorded, which was not directly relevant to the cause of the crash.

It recommended a thorough review of search and rescue aviation operations in Ireland, which former minister Mr Ross commissioned.

Read more here

Published in Rescue
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In the absence of this year’s Bray Air Display due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 conducted a special fly-past to pay tribute to Ireland’s frontline healthcare workers.

The Sikorsky S92 helicopter took to the skies over the Co Wicklow town at 3pm yesterday, Saturday 25 July, on the same afternoon it flew to the rescue of a family of four stranded by the tide at Sandymount.

Rob Tatten, general operations manager of CHC Ireland, which operates the coastguard’s SAR helicopter service, was in attendance to make small presentation to Mr Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, and spoke before the event.

He said: “CHC, who operates the helicopter search and rescue contract on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard, has been taking part in the Bray Air Display every year. However due to the pandemic that wasn’t possible this year.

“But with the organisers of the show we said could we do something to recognise the phenomenal work of our fellow frontline healthcare workers, who like us continue to work 24/7, 365 days a year.

“So today, Rescue 116, while out training, will do a fly-past to thank those workers while we also make a short presentation to Paul Reid and other frontline workers to say thank you on behalf of CHC, the Irish Coast Guard, the aviation community and Bray Air Display.”

Published in Coastguard

The Irish Coast Guard’s Dun Laoghaire unit launched to the rescue of a family of four cut off by the tide on Sandymount yesterday afternoon, Saturday 25 July.

Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard were tasked to incident along with the local RNLI’s inshore lifeboat and the Dublin-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 116.

The two adults and two children were retrieved from their sandbank by the helicopter crew, who landed them at a safe spot on land where they wiremen by a coastguard team. All were found to be in good spirts.

Emergency services remind the public if you see anyone in difficulty in or near the water to dial 112/999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Coastguard

Vertical Magazine has shared video of a roundtable discussion on helicopter rescues from earlier this year, featuring a member of the Rescue 116 crew with the Irish Coast Guard.

Helicopter winchman Derek Everitt was in attendance at the HAI Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California this past January, where he took part in a talk with fellow professionals about their ‘life on the wire’.

He was joined by Montana-based air rescue specialist Wil Milam, fire rescue pilot Tony Webber, Canadian rescuer Rob Munday, Las Vegas police flight instructor Dave Callen and hoist operator and paramedic Jason Connell.

The wide-ranging discussion, which can be seen in the video above, included their most memorable rescues — and some of the biggest mistakes they’ve learned from.

For Everitt, his most memorable “screw-up” was as young crewman with the Air Corps involved an unplanned landing at a mountain crossroads for his pilot to impress a high-ranking friend — with embarrassing results.

Vertical has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

Air navigation services run by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have not been adequately resourced and were still suffering from staffing shortages for at least two years after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash, The Sunday Independent reports.

A review for the Department of Transport also calls for a "just culture body" which is "robust" to be implemented as soon as possible to protect pilots and other crew members who make confidential reports on safety concerns.

And it criticises delays in separating the State aviation authority's conflicting functions of safety regulation and commercial operations.

The lack of accurate air navigation charts available to Irish Coast Guard helicopter search and rescue crews was one of the key issues highlighted after the Rescue 116 crash which claimed the lives of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith off north Co Mayo on March 14, 2017.

The final report into the crash has still not been published as an unidentified stakeholder has been granted a review of the final draft report by Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

In late 2017, the IAA had invited search and rescue and other pilots to help correct aeronautical charts after it conceded charts published three months after the crash were inaccurate, with lighthouses in wrong locations and obscure symbols.

Although the IAA is responsible for providing aeronautical charts under State safety plans, it has said it does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness and disclaims all liability.

The review of the IAA technical and safety performance by Helios and Egis Avia consultants during the second and third quarters of 2019 found the IAA air navigation division staff were having to work "extended hours", as posts could not be filled after one inspector left and one took maternity leave.

The "slow pace" of separating safety regulation from money-making commercial activities within the IAA and the potential workload increase for IAA staff as a result of Brexit are other issues flagged in the review.

For more, read The Sunday Independent report here

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Coast Guard has issued a statement marking three years since the loss of four crew of the helicopter Rescue 116 off Co Mayo.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith died when their Sikorsky S-92 hit Blackrock island off north Mayo in the early hours of 14 March 2017. The bodies of Ormsby and Smith have not been found to date.

The coastguard said: “As our frontline and emergency service workers yet again distinguish themselves during this current crisis, we remember Dara, Mark, Paul and Ciarán who we lost three years ago today. Four of Ireland’s finest stepped out into the darkness to come to the aid of strangers.

“Two brave souls were brought home, two remain lost to the sea, but all four will be forever remembered for the sacrifice they made. Our thoughts today are with the families, friends and colleagues of Dara, Mark, Paul and Ciarán.

“Go Mairidís Beo.”

Last night, Belfast Coastguard paid respects to their colleagues in the Republic, stating: “Three years on the sense of loss and disbelief is still very much real for us all. Tonight especially, we remember the crew and their families.”

And in a touching tribute following a tidal cutoff rescue yesterday (Friday 13 March), the crew of the helicopter now using the Rescue 116 callsign left a special signature of a heart in the sky to remember those lost.

Afloat.ie reported on Thursday (12 March) that a senior counsel has been appointed to chair a review into aspects of the State investigator’s final report on the 2017 helicopter crash.

Published in Coastguard

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association has said the Government’s establishment of a review board into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash draft final report is in conflict with international safety standards writes Lorna Siggins

The pilots’ union was responding to Wednesday’s announcement by Minister for Transport Shane Ross that he was appointing senior counsel Patrick McCann to chair the review of the draft final report.

The draft has been completed and was circulated last autumn to interested parties, including families of the four crew who died - Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith.

A 60-day period was given for submissions. However, the report has not yet been published by Ireland’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), due to an application in January for a review of certain findings. An interim statement was issued by the AAIU this week in the lead up to the third anniversary of the crash ( March 14).

The four air/sea rescue helicopter crew were providing “top cover” communication for the medical evacuation of a crewman from a British-registered fishing vessel when their Sikorsky S-92 hit Blackrock island off north Mayo in the early hours of March 14, 2017.

The bodies of the helicopter’s two winch crew have not been found to date in spite of extensive searches supported by the Irish fishing fleet.

IALPA president Capt Evan Cullen has expressed concern over the ongoing delay in publishing the final report.

“Ireland has an obligation to publish the final version of an accident investigation report as quickly as possible to ensure that safety recommendations, potentially applicable to search and rescue operations worldwide, are implemented at the earliest possible opportunity,” Capt Cullen said.

Cap Cullen said that in IALPA’s view, the review “does not comply with the standards and recommended practices laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)”.

“Annex 13 of ICAO sets out how states should investigate or delegate the investigation of accidents which have occurred in their territory,” he said.

“For a country to take the unusual step of deviating from ICAO practice, it must file a difference to the ICAO standards and we do not believe Ireland has taken this step,” he said.

“It is fundamental that adherence to international obligations regarding aviation safety recommendations should transcend stakeholder concerns over reputation. Prevention of any future accidents demands no less,” he added.

The Department of Transport said it "wholly rejects" the IALPA claim and said there was "nothing in Annexe 13 of the ICAO regulations " that obliged it to file a difference. A spokeswoman for the department said the AAIU chief inspector also concurred with its position.

Under Ireland’s Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009, an “interested party” may serve on the minister written “notice of re-examination”.

This is “in respect of findings and conclusions that appear to reflect adversely on the person’s reputation”.

CHC Ireland, which employed the four aircrew, has declined to say whether it sought the review.

Published in News Update
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Almost three years after four Irish Coast Guard aircrew lost their lives in a helicopter crash off the north Mayo coast, a senior counsel has been appointed to chair a review into aspects of the State investigator's final report writes Lorna Siggins

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has appointed senior counsel Patrick McCann to chair the review of the draft final report which has not yet been published by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU).

Mr McCann will be assisted by an “independent expert member”, Mr Ross said on Wednesday in a statement announcing the establishment of the review board – two months after it was first sought.

Mr Ross said that the review board would “re-examine certain findings of the draft final report”.

Mr Ross’s department had confirmed back in early January that a review had been requested by a “stakeholder”, which it would not identify.

It said then that “arrangements are being put in place” to set this board up, and confirmed the review would be held in private.

CHC Ireland, which employed the four air crew who died – Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith - declined to say whether it sought the review.

The four air/sea rescue helicopter crew died when their Sikorsky S-92 hit Blackrock island off north Mayo in the early hours of March 14, 2017. The bodies of Ormsby and Smith have not been found to date.

Under the Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009, an “interested party” may serve on the minister written “notice of re-examination”.

This is “in respect of findings and conclusions that appear to reflect adversely on the person’s reputation”.

CHC Ireland holds the ten-year Irish Coast Guard search and rescue contract, which is worth €50m a year and is due to expire in 2022, though an extension could be allowed to 2025. Work has already begun on preparing a new tender.

The AAIU ruled out mechanical failure early on in its preliminary report into the crash, and an interim report was published a year after the crash. An interim statement was published on March 1st, 2019.

The AAIU has already identified in its preliminary report that the Dublin-based crew were flying with inaccurate chart information and faulty installation of satellite locators in the pilots’ lifejackets.

Rescue 116 had been tasked on the night of March 13th 2017 to provide “top cover” support to the Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter for a medical evacuation off the west coast. It was approaching Blacksod lighthouse to refuel when it collided with Blackrock island nine nautical miles to the west.

The AAIU’s draft final report was issued on September 13th, 2019 to “interested parties”, including the four bereaved families and CHC Ireland. The parties were given 60 days to review this report and offer comments.

“The review board will be chaired by senior counsel Patrick McCann who will be assisted by an independent expert member. The review board will be entirely independent in its work in accordance with the relevant legislation,” Mr Ross’s statement said.

The AAIU said last January that it would continue to handle submissions in relation to the draft conclusions.

The review board’s chair must be a barrister or solicitor of 10 years’ standing, or a person who, in the minister’s opinion, has “aeronautical or engineering knowledge”.

The Minister may also appoint one or more technical assessors. A report is compiled for the minister if the re-examination proceeds.

Published in Coastguard
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Following January’s film on Ireland’s offshore fishing industry, the latest episode of TG4 documentary series Tabú reaches into the heart and soul of the Irish Coast Guard — as told by the coastguard members in their own words.

In the aftermath of the loss of Rescue 116 and volunteer Caitríona Lucas, An Garda Cósta - Ár n-Insint Féin, which screens this coming Wednesday 4 March, explores how they continue to serve in spite of the tragedies.

Focusing on operations after the biggest tragedy that has happened to any Blue Light service in Ireland, the hour-long film reveals the anguish of the search, along with the coping mechanisms of “the coastguard family”.

And according to the producers, the documentary also reveals the dangers of the job and how they stay on the right side of risk.

Produced and directed by Darina Clancy for Midas Productions, Tabú: An Garda Cósta - Ár n-Insint Féin broadcasts Wednesday 4 March at 9.30pm on TG4.

Published in Coastguard
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The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) Information

The creation of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) began in a very low key way in the autumn of 2002 with an exploratory meeting between Denis Kiely, Jim Donegan and Fintan Cairns in the Granville Hotel in Waterford, and the first conference was held in February 2003 in Kilkenny.

While numbers of cruiser-racers were large, their specific locations were widespread, but there was simply no denying the numerical strength and majority power of the Cork-Dublin axis. To get what was then a very novel concept up and running, this strength of numbers had to be acknowledged, and the first National Championship in 2003 reflected this, as it was staged in Howth.

ICRA was run by a dedicated group of volunteers each of whom brought their special talents to the organisation. Jim Donegan, the elder statesman, was so much more interested in the wellbeing of the new organisation than in personal advancement that he insisted on Fintan Cairns being the first Commodore, while the distinguished Cork sailor was more than content to be Vice Commodore.

ICRA National Championships

Initially, the highlight of the ICRA season was the National Championship, which is essentially self-limiting, as it is restricted to boats which have or would be eligible for an IRC Rating. Boats not actually rated but eligible were catered for by ICRA’s ace number-cruncher Denis Kiely, who took Ireland’s long-established native rating system ECHO to new heights, thereby providing for extra entries which brought fleet numbers at most annual national championships to comfortably above the hundred mark, particularly at the height of the boom years. 

ICRA Boat of the Year (Winners 2004-2019)

 

ICRA Nationals 2021

The date for the 2021 edition of the ICRA National Championships is 3-5 September at the National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay.

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