Aviation experts to review ‘oversight’ of air-sea rescue

Minister for Transport Shane Ross is appointing an international team of aviation experts to review “oversight” of the State’s air-sea search and rescue provision.

Mr Ross, who holds responsibility for the Irish Coast Guard, is acting on an Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) interim recommendation made to him after the fatal Rescue 116 helicopter crash.

The team led by a former European Aviation Safety Agency rulemaking director Prof Jules Kneepkens is being given two months to report back.

Four Irish Coast Guard air crew – Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith – died when their Sikorsky S-92 helicopter crashed on Blackrock island, 13km west of the Mullet peninsula in the early hours of March 14th, 2017.

The bodies of Capt Fitzpatrick and Capt Duffy were recovered, but the two winch crew remain missing.

The AAIU is still investigating causes, but its interim statement published just over two months ago called on Mr Ross to conduct a “thorough” review of search and rescue aviation operations in the State. It said this was required to ensure “effective continuous, comprehensive and independent oversight”.

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