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01 Dec 2021

Calls for safety recommendations from Rescue 116 report to be implemented as soon as possible

Remains located in wreckage of Rescue 116 helicopter

There have been calls for Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to implement the safety recommendations from the final Rescue 116 report as soon as possible.

It comes after a sombre debate took place in the Dáil last night about the final report, issued by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) on the crash, which killed four, including local man Captain Mark Duffy.

The report itself was published earlier this month, with it concluding that the accident was an “organisational accident”, with poor weather and a lack of information on flight databases also being highlighted.

The four crew on board the Rescue 116, Captain Mark Duffy, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, winchman Ciarán Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby lost their lives after the helicopter crashed on March 14th 2017.

The aircraft crashed into Blackrock Island, which is just off the coast of Mayo.

Minister Eamon Ryan lead the tributes to the four crew killed, saying that the accident was an “appalling tragedy”.

“The R116 accident on 14 March 2017 was an appalling tragedy. It claimed the lives of four people who, with consummate professionalism and total dedication, gave themselves to the task of saving others,” said Minister Ryan.

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend again my heartfelt sympathy to the families and loved ones of pilot Ms Dara Fitzpatrick, co-pilot Mr. Mark Duffy, Mr. Ciarán Smith and Mr. Paul Ormsby.”

The Minister said that he accepted all of the 42 safety recommendations addressed to him within the report, but that due to the size and complexity of the report, the Department of Transport needed time to examine it in detail.

Sinn Féin’s Transport Spokesperson, Darren O’Rourke said that while he welcomed the Minister accepting the recommendations within the report, he sought a timeline for when they would be implemented.

“Accepting these recommendations is not enough and I would like the Minister to outline a timeline for when each of the 42 safety recommendations will be fully addressed and implemented,” said Deputy O’Rourke.

“It is essential that each of the recommendations is acted on with haste to ensure everything is done to try to prevent another such tragedy.”

Co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy, said that the Rescue 116 accident was a “preventable tragedy”, highlighting the fact that the lack of mapping of Black Rock island was notified as a hazard to CHC Ireland, who ran the search and rescue mission.

“The accident involving helicopter R116 was, for many reasons, an entirely preventable tragedy. In 2013, the mapping of the terrain of Black Rock Island was notified as an omitted hazard on the EGPWS (Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System) in 2013 by a pilot,” said Deputy Murphy.

“The information was circulated to the manufacturer of the system and to CHC Ireland, but no action arose from the communication.

“This is a tragedy that has been lodged not only in the minds of the families who have been so directly impacted by it, but also in the minds of the public. The loss of lives that occurred in this way resonated deeply with people on that day and still does today.”

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