UK & World News

  • 10 December 2013, 3:25

Glasgow Helicopter Crash: 'No Engine Failure'

Investigators have said there is no evidence that a police helicopter that crashed into a bar in Glasgow, killing nine people, suffered an engine or gearbox failure.

An initial report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that "all significant components were present" when, according to witnesses, the aircraft "dropped like a stone" and came down on the Clutha bar last month.

It also confirmed that while all rotor blades were attached at the time of impact, neither the main blades nor the tail blades were rotating.

"Initial evidence indicated that the helicopter struck the flat roof of the single-storey building with a high rate of descent and low/negligible forward speed," the report said.

It added: "Initial assessment provided no evidence of major mechanical disruption to either engine and indicated that the main rotor gearbox was capable of providing drive."

The AAIB said the helicopter suffered "very extensive damage" when it crashed through the roof of the bar on the banks of the River Clyde shortly after 10.20pm on November 29.

All three people on board the aircraft - pilot David Traill, 51, and police officers Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43 - were killed.

Six people inside the pub - Robert Jenkins, 61, Mark O'Prey, 44, Colin Gibson, 33, John McGarrigle, 57, Gary Arthur, 48, and Samuel McGhee, 56 - died as debris fell from the roof.

There was no fire, despite the helicopter containing at least 95 litres of fuel - around a quarter of the amount it took off with nearly two hours before.

Sky's Scotland Correspondent James Matthews said: "According to one aviation expert I've spoken to, this is a 'head scratcher' for the AAIB.

"The one thing that caught his eye was the amount of fuel the helicopter had on board when it dropped.

"I'm told 95 litres is not a lot of fuel. Commercial pilots wouldn't tend to operate on that amount, although police helicopters are slightly different in that there is an urgency in their operations, so they can run at lower fuel levels."

The remains of the aircraft have been inspected at AAIB's headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire, where a detailed examination continues.

Although the helicopter was not fitted with flight recorders, investigators are combing through radar data covering the flight, as well as radio communications and footage from CCTV cameras.

The AAIB's initial report revealed the pilot had significant experience, having flown more than 5,500 hours, including 646 behind the controls of the type of helicopter involved in the crash.

Meanwhile, the funerals for Mr O'Prey and Mr Arthur, who were among those enjoying a live band when the helicopter came down, have taken place.

Mr O'Prey was described as a "loveable giant" and an "unbelievable character" by his sister Louise, while Mr Arthur's family described him as "the best dad" who "always tried to do his best for us".

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