Irish Coast Guard Helicopter Crash of 2017

From the Times of London (original behind paywall):

The Irish Coast Guard air crew that died in a helicopter crash off the north Mayo coast in 2017 was flying with inaccurate charts, faulty satellite locators and was at risk of fatigue due to demanding work rosters, an investigation is set to conclude.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, and Captain Mark Duffy, 51, had been awake for more than 18 and 17 hours respectively when their Sikorsky S-92A helicopter crashed into Blackrock island off the Mayo coast in the early hours of March 14, 2017, killing both pilots and winch team Paul Ormsby, 53, and Ciarán Smith, 38.

Investigators have identified several causes contributing to the helicopter crash, which occurred at night and in poor weather nine nautical miles from the intended landing point at Blacksod, where it was due to refuel. Investigators believe the crew was “unaware” that the first waypoint on its programmed route was flying them directly to a “282ft obstacle”.

They also note that the first waypoint on the southerly approach to Blacksod lighthouse was almost coincident with Blackrock lighthouse, to the west, at 282ft.

The crew were working a 24 hour shift system and were dispatched to provide communication cover for a medical evacuation from a fishing boat which turned out not to have been made.

Full report due in “the coming weeks.”


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The Times article seems a bit glib, but the report is due any day now. The info released in last 2 years is quite detailed and already contains lessons for maritime users of ECDIS, autopilots etc. Anomalies, conflicting information & operation of Flight Mgmt Sytems, moving map screens (~ECDIS) ground prox warning systems (~ECDIS) are listed.
(Mark 1 Eyeball almost saved them, but…)
Been following this since it happened, via mentions on @IrishCoastGuard on Twitter…
-initial report…
-interim statement published on the 1st anniversary…
-interim Statement 2…
Well worth a read!!
Why my interest - years on long range SAR, long ago and far away in a blue suit.


Thanks for the links.



For the 3rd anniversary of the incident, Interim Statement no.3 has been released, as legally required:-

… with explanation - somebody didn’t like some findings and a conclusion. Some related re-examination is in progress.

For the 4th anniversary, another interim statement but still no report…

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flying lower than the highest object has a little bit to do with it

According to the International Air Transport Association ( IATA ) CFIT or controlled flight into terrain accounts for 28 percent of fatal aircraft accidents.

“CFIT was the second most frequent category of fatal accident representing 42 fatal accidents or almost 28 percent of total fatal accidents.”