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Last words of R116 crew should not have been released to media, says pilots' group

The last two minutes of the audio was released in the Preliminary Report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit of Ireland (AAIU) on Friday.

Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews,ie

A GROUP THAT represents Irish pilots has criticised the final minutes of the transcript from coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 being published.

The full transcript of the last two minutes of the audio recorded by the Cockpit Voice Recorder on the flight was released in the Preliminary Report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit of Ireland (AAIU) last Friday.

The helicopter went down near Blackrock Island off the coast of Mayo on 14 March, claiming the lives of all four crew members on board.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered at sea soon after the helicopter went down, but died later in hospital. The body of pilot Captain Mark Duffy was found in the wreckage but crew members Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith have still not been found.

In a statement the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and the European Cockpit Association (ECA) say the publication of the transcript was unwarranted, unacceptable and counterproductive to flight safety.

It adds that it “unnecessarily adds to the burden of the victims’ families, and is also a breach of trust to all those involved in commercial aviation”.

Evan Cullen, President of the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) said:

There is absolutely no justification for – or benefit from – publishing specifically the last two minutes of this flight, other than feeding a thirst for sensationalism.

Cullen added that the publication breaches the internationally agreed principles of accident investigation confidentiality, set out in ICAO Annex 13 and EU Accident Investigation Regulation 996/2010.

“According to ICAO Annex 13 paragraph 5.12 and the EU Regulation 996/2010 Article 14 (paragraph 1) the State conducting the investigation of an accident shall not make CVR recordings and any transcripts from such recordings available for purposes other than accident or incident investigation.

Annex 13 goes on to state that “parts of the records not relevant to the analysis shall not be disclosed.”

A forward in the preliminary report stated, “The sole objective of this safety investigation and Final Report is the prevention of accidents and incidents. Accordingly, it is inappropriate that AAIU Reports should be used to assign fault or blame or determine liability, since neither the safety investigation nor the reporting process has been undertaken for that purpose.

Extracts from this Report may be published providing that the source is acknowledged, the material is accurately reproduced and that it is not used in a derogatory or misleading context.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie this evening, the AAIU said: “The  section of transcript released in the Preliminary Report was deemed very relevant to the AAIU in giving the families, aviation regulators, operators and the many operational S-92 pilots around the world a better understanding of the sequence of events that occurred on the day of this tragic accident.

“The AAIU will continue in its work to bring this particular investigation to its final conclusion. AAIU investigations are held in Private and are Confidential.  No comment is made specific to any investigation other than through a published report.”

Read: ’We’re gone’: Final words of R116 crew released in preliminary report>

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