In­quiry told of Clutha crash he­li­copter de­fects

● Fuel mis­read­ings in he­li­copter just months be­fore 2013 dis­as­ter

The Scotsman - - NEWS DIGEST - By MAR­TYN MCLAUGH­LIN mm­claugh­[email protected] scots­man. com

The he­li­copter in­volved in the Clutha dis­as­ter showed “in­ac­cu­rate” read­ings of its fuel con­tents just four months be­fore the tragedy, a fa­tal ac­ci­dent in­quiry has heard.

A tech­ni­cal log sec­tor record for the G- SPAO Euro­copter EC135 he­li­copter noted de­fects with its fuel con­tents’ in­di­ca­tions on 8 July 2013, with both over­read­ings and un­der­read­ings of the fuel on board.

The in­quiry yes­ter­day heard from Bryan Mered­ith, a qual­ity as­sur­ance en­gi­neer with Bond Air Ser vices, the air­craft’s op­er­a­tors, that a fuel sen­sor in the main fuel tank was re­placed.

But t wo days later records for the he­li­copter show there were f ur t her de­fects, with “spu­ri­ous” read­ings of t he “main fuel quan­tity in­di­ca­tions”. The fol­low­ing day the air­craft’s for­ward fuel sen­sor was re­placed.

T h e i n q u i r y h e a r d h ow Mr Mered­ith car­ried out a se­ries of au­dits on the air­craft bet ween April and Au­gust that year, in­clud­ing a phys­i­cal sur­vey. How­ever, the au­dit did not re­quire the he­li­copter’s fuel sys­tem to be in­spected.

The in­quir y was also told how on 1 July 2013, an­other EC135 he­li­copter, based at the SECC in Glas­gow, reg­is­tered i nac­cu­rate r ead­ings i n i t s num­ber one sup­ply tank.

The in­di­ca­tions sug­gested it was full with 47kg of fuel “all the time ir­re­spec­tive of the fuel con­tents”.

Both fuel trans­fer pumps on the G- CGPI air­craft were turned off, al­low­ing the fuel in both sup­ply tanks to be con­sumed, but the num­ber one tank con­tin­ued to in­di­cate it con­tained 47kg, even when the red low fuel warn­ing light came on.

The i nqui r y

l a t e r hear d from PC Alis­tair Ren­nie, a Po­lice Scot­land air ob­server, who de­scribed the pilot of the Clutha he­li­copter as a “safe pair of hands”.

Mr Ren­nie, 45, had pre­vi­ously flown along­side Cap­tain David Traill, whom he praised as “ex­tremely ca­pa­ble”.

He was ques­tioned by Don­ald Find­lay QC, rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily of vic­tim Robert Jenk­ins, on whether he would char­ac­terise Mr Traill as some­one who was a “stick­ler for rules” or some­one who was “gung ho”.

Mr Ren­nie replied: “He was a stick­ler.”

“What makes you say that?” Mr Find­lay asked.

“It would be an ob­ser­va­tion of him, but he was very much a safe pair of hands is how I’d de­scribe Cap­tain Traill,” Mr Ren­nie ex­plained.

“E x t r e m e l y c a p a b l e , e x t r e mel y c o n f i d e n t a n d en­tirely some­one who would not cut cor­ners or look to do any­thing other than how it should be done.”

The in­quiry be­fore Sher­iff Prin­ci­pal Craig Turn­bull con­tin­ues on Mon­day.

PIC­TURE: ROBERT PERRY

0 Ten peo­ple were killed when the Euro­copter EC135 he­li­copter crashed into the Clutha Bar in Glas­gow

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