Cause of helicopter tragedy still not established

THE exact cause of the Scottish helicopter tragedy which claimed nine lives is still unclear following an interim report by investigators.

The helicopter crashed on to the flat roof of the The Clutha Vaults in Glasgow on November 29 with a high rate of descent and with low or negligible forward speed, a special bulletin from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) revealed.

But the AAIB added that the weather was good, that so far there was no evidence of engine or gearbox failure and that “all significant components were present” at the time of impact.

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In addition, the helicopter still had 95 litres of the 400kg of fuel that it had taken off with from Glasgow City Heliport.

The AAIB said the twin-engined Eurocopter EC 135 aircraft had no flight recorders, nor was required to do so. But there were some non crash-protected system recordings that could be studied along with radio communications and closed circuit TV recordings.

Saying that the investigation would continue, the AAIB promised to report any significant developments.

It said the pilot had requested and received clearance from air traffic controllers to re-enter the Glasgow control zone at 10.18pm and there were no further radio transmissions received from him before radar contact was lost at 10.22pm. It said neither of its rotors were rotating when it crashed.

The first funerals were held yesterday for customers at the pub.

Mark O’Prey, 44, and Gary Arthur, 48, were on a night out at the bar where a local band was playing.

At St Bride’s RC Church in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, hundreds of mourners paid their respects to window cleaner Mr O’Prey whose family described him as a “lovable giant”.

The requiem mass was led by Father Owen Ness who said Mr O’Prey had died in a place where people went to be together and to be happy. “That was the place where Mark was happy and that was the place where his life ended so unexpectedly,” he said.

Mr Arthur was remembered at a humanist service in Paisley, Renfrewshire, where an estimated 400 to 500 people attended.