“Rescue 116 Crew Tragically Failed by Irish Regulation” – IALPA
IALPA statement on the report into crash of R116 published today by the he Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU)
“On 14th March 2017 the crew of Rescue 116 – Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, Winch Operator Paul Ormsby, and Winchman Ciarán Smith lost their lives while participating in a rescue off the Mayo coast. This report shows that the loss of their lives was as needless as it was preventable.
It is evident from media reporting that the final publication of the Report corresponds with the AAIU Interim and Preliminary reports and makes it clear that the crew of R116 were exemplary in the performance of their assigned task. Their planning, response, teamwork, and communication was exactly what would be expected from such a competent and seasoned crew, on a flight led by such professional pilots. They were let down by a regulatory system which left them ill-equipped to do the vital work that same system tasked them with.
The report outlines a number of regulatory and systemic issues which conspired to put the crew in lethal danger. Prime amongst them was the provision of inaccurate and misleading chart and map data.
IALPA is calling on the Government and Minister for Transport to institute an immediate review of the failures identified in this report, and to bring forward concrete proposals to address each and every identified failure immediately.
All flight crew rely on the basic assumption that their maps and charts provide accurate data. Few flight crews could be more reliant on that assumption of accurate data than the crew of a rescue helicopter, operating offshore in challenging conditions outside their normal home base, scrambled at short notice to launch a rescue in the middle of the night (00:45 am). They relied on the data production standards of Irish regulation to guarantee them correct information. They were let down.
IALPA President Evan Cullen described it as a fundamental betrayal; “As an airline pilot, if I take a flight from Dublin to Rome, I must navigate the Alps, and I expect one of two things from the Swiss authorities; tell me the height of the alps, or tell me they don’t know the heights, so I’d better avoid them. The one thing they can’t do, under any circumstances, ever, is tell me the wrong height, or tell me the Alps are not there. In essence that is what the Irish state did to Dara, Mark, Paul and Ciarán. They approved information which said, ‘you are safe’, when the
absolute opposite was the truth.”
The report details failures in oversight, equipment requirements & maintenance, and in resourcing for Search and Rescue. But it is the Regulatory failure by the now-defunct Irish Aviation Authority which is central to this accident. They set the standards for equipment, for mapping, and for oversight. They accepted standards which most, if not all, of their European peer Authorities would not.
This tragic and unnecessary loss of life must not be allowed to happen again. IALPA is calling on the Government and Minister for Transport to institute an immediate review of the failures identified in this report, and to bring forward concrete proposals to address each and every identified failure immediately.”
IALPA is a branch fo Fórsa trade union
A copy of the Air Accident Investigation Unit Ireland (AAIUI) report is available HERE.
— IALPA (@IALPA) November 5, 2021