Bad weather hits mis­sion to find last two copter crew

Irish Sunday Mirror - - NEWS - news@irish­mir­ BY AOIFE NIC ARDGHAIL

GARDA divers will be­gin fresh searches for the miss­ing Res­cue 116 he­roes to­mor­row af­ter the mis­sion was called off over the week­end due to bad weather.

Choppy con­di­tions de­layed the op­er­a­tion to find the re­mains of Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby who lost their lives in the he­li­copter crash off the Mayo coast­line ear­lier this year.

The bod­ies of the other Coast Guard crew mem­bers, Cap­tain Dara Fitz­patrick and Mark Duffy, were re­cov­ered in the days af­ter their he­li­copter came down at Black­rock Is­land on March 14.

Garda Su­per­in­ten­dent Tony Healy, who is lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, had in­tended start­ing the new searches to­day but hopes the weather will per­mit them to be­gin to­mor­row.

Mem­bers of the Garda Sub Aqua team will set up base on a fish­ing ves­sel kit­ted with a specially-made net which will trawl some of the ar­eas around the scene of the crash.

Vol­un­teers on the ground will do a search of their own that fol­lows the sea mis­sion, in case any ma­te­rial of in­ter­est is washed up on shore. The search trawler was due to com­plete work around the Black­rock area to learn more about the type of seabed fac­ing the op­er­a­tion. In a shock­ing rev­e­la­tion last week, it emerged on RTE’S Prime Time that a pi­lot who had car­ried out test flights on the he­li­copter had re­ported Black­rock Is­land miss­ing from the on­board warn­ing sys­tem four years ago. He flagged the lethal er­ror but it was not cor­rected, with fa­tal con­se­quences for all four Res­cue 116 crew. The pro­gramme also re­vealed a pri­vate op­er­a­tor had taken over the Coast Guard’s Search and Res­cue ser­vice in 2012 and fit­ted out all ma­chines with an En­hanced Ground Prox­im­ity Warn­ing Sys­tem.

This usu­ally warns pi­lots it they are get­ting too close to an ob­sta­cle but it only works if its data­base has a com­plete pic­ture of the flight path.

But now all po­ten­tial ob­sta­cles pos­ing a dan­ger off the Ir­ish coast­line have been ad­dressed, ac­cord­ing to re­tired Lieu­tenant Colonel Kevin Byrne.

SEARCH Coast Guard he­li­copter off Co Mayo

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