Pilots had ‘no shared mental model’ of last part of doomed flight
The pilot and co-pilot of a helicopter that ditched into the sea with the loss of four lives did not have a shared understanding of how they would fly the approach to an airport, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.
A i r A c c i d e n t s I n v e s t i g a - tions Branch (AAIB) inspector Alison Campbell said there a p p e a r e d t o b e “n o s h a r e d mental model” bet ween the t wo men about how the last part of the flight was to be conducted. Two crew and 12 passengers on the Super Puma L2 sur vived when it ditched on its approach to Sumburgh Airpor t, Shetland, at 6:17pm on 23 August 2013.
But Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray, Gar y Mccrossan, 59, from Inverness, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, Count y Durham, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire, all died in the incident.
Cross-examining Ms Campbell yesterday, Jonathan Lake
Q C, representing helicopter op erator CHC, asked where t h e r e wa s a l a c k o f s h a r e d understanding.
She replied: “I think there was a lack of understanding about how the approach was to be flown, what was to happen should they reach minima, who was to do what i n terms of looking out or looking in and what the plan was for landing or go around.”
Ms Campbell said there was “n o s h a r e d me n t a l mo d e l” about par ts of the approach and what was going to hap - pen when they reached 300ft.
The inspector said the pilot was “very experienced” and it was reasonable to conclude he had a plan in his head for how he was going to carry out the approach, but suggested the co-pilot might not have known what it was.
Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle, who is hearing the inquir y, asked: “First of all the pilot has worked out what he is going to do and second what he expects the co -pilot to do during the flight?” Ms Campbell replied:
“I think that’s fair. When crew work really well together they share that expectation with each other. They both know wha t t h e y a r e ex p e c t i n g o f each other and I think that’s what was missing in this case and they didn’t share those expectations.”
Sur vivor Samuel Bull took h i s o w n l i f e i n L o n d o n i n 2017, which Mr P yle said was “directly caused” by the crash.
The inquiry, which is taking place virtually due to coronavirus measures, also heard from Adrian Osb orne, who was emergency safety equipment officer at CHC until he retired in April.
He said both the pilot and copilot were up to date with their training, including tri-annual under water escape training, which involved escaping from a simulated ditching on water as well as an emergency escap e from a helicopter underwater. The inquiry was also shown a simulation of the final nine minutes of the flight.