A helicopter crash which killed 10 people could have been prevented if the pilot had followed emergency procedures relating to low fuel warnings, an inquiry has found.
The helicopter plunged onto the roof of the Clutha bar in Glasgow in November 2013 – killing pilot David Traill, two crew members and seven customers.
A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) took place before Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull in Glasgow between April and August this year.
It heard how five low fuel warnings were acknowledged during the helicopter’s final flight.
On Wednesday, the sheriff principal released his determinations about the crash in a report.
He concluded that the Eurocopter EC135, manufactured by Airbus, crashed as a result of fuel starvation due to Captain Traill’s inexplicable failure to follow the procedure set down in the pilot’s checklist.
The engines of the aircraft, which was carrying out operations on behalf of Police Scotland, flamed out sequentially while the helicopter was airborne, as a result of fuel starvation, due to depletion of the contents of the supply tank.
The main issue, he said, was that Captain Traill allowed the supply tanks to deplete when there was plenty of usable fuel available in the main tank.
The report found that both the fuel transfer pump switches were in the off position when the low fuel triggered.
If one or both of them had been switched back on by the pilot, the helicopter would not have crashed.
Another way the accident could have been avoided is if Airbus included some kind of aural warning which activated where both fuel transfer pumps had been switched off, the sheriff principal said.
He determined that there were no defects which contributed to the accident and that no aspect of the training of pilots was a factor.
He also said that there was no evidence to suggest that Captain Traill deliberately caused the helicopter to crash.
However, he found that the quantities of fuel displayed on the fuel quantity indication system of the helicopter contradicted the low fuel warnings.
The sheriff principal concluded that Captain Traill consciously took a risk in proceeding on the basis that the low fuel warnings were in some way erroneous by not carrying out the actions set out in the pilot’s checklist, with fatal consequences.
The report said that the supply tanks were depleted due to the failure of the pilot of the helicopter […] to ensure that at least one of the helicopter’s fuel transfer pump switches was set to ON.
The Clutha Vaults pub was packed with more than 100 people when the helicopter, returning to its base on the banks of the River Clyde, crashed.
Those who were in the helicopter were PC Tony Collins, 43, and PC Kirsty Nelis, 36, as well as 51-year-old Captain Traill.
The seven customers were Gary Arthur, 48; Joe Cusker, 59; Colin Gibson, 33; Robert Jenkins, 61; John McGarrigle, 58; Samuel McGhee, 56; and Mark O’Prey, 44.
A further 31 people in the pub were injured.
(c) Sky News 2019: Pilot ‘could have prevented’ Glasgow helicopter crash which killed 10