Clutha Crash: Both Engines Failed

Both engines failed on the helicopter which crashed into a Glasgow pub resulting in 10 deaths, an interim air accident report said today.

In the latter stages of the flight on the night of November 29, the right engine ``flamed out and shortly after the left engine flamed out'', said the report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). But the report also said that 76kg (168lb) of fuel was left in the main fuel tank and the continuing investigation into the crash ``will seek to determine why a situation arose that led to both the helicopter's engines flaming out when 76kg remained in the fuel tank group''. 

The AAIB said the continuing investigation would also want to find out ``why no emergency radio transmission was received from the pilot, and why, following the double engine failure, an autorotative descent and flare recovery was not achieved''. 

This was the second interim report into the crash into the Clutha bar in Glasgow of the Eurocopter EC135 helicopter, which was assisting police at the time. 

Civilian pilot David Traill and his two passengers, Pc Kirsty Nelis and Pc Tony Collins, were killed, as well as seven people inside the pub.

Today's report said that the helicopter had 400kg (882lb) of fuel on board - sufficient for about one hour and 35 minutes of flight - when it left Glasgow City Heliport at 8.45pm to support police operations. At 10.18pm the pilot requested clearance from air traffic control to re-enter the Glasgow control zone to return to the heliport. 

This was approved and no further radio transmissions were received from the pilot. 

The report went on: ``Recorded data indicates that, in the latter stages of the flight, the right engine flamed out, and shortly after the left engine flamed out. ``The helicopter descended and stuck the roof of the Clutha Vaults bar at a high rate of descent, in an upright attitude. Evidence indicates that the rotor blades and Fenestron tail rotor were not rotating at the moment of impact. 

The last recoded radar position for the helicopter was at 10.22pm showing it at an altitude of approximately 400ft (122m) amsl (above mean sea level).'' The AAIB said it had been closdely examining the helicopter's fuel system. 

There was no evidence that fuel had leaked from the aircraft before or during the impact with the pub.

The report went on: ``Examination of all internal pipework and transfer passages has not revealed any pre- or post-impact failure and all paths still permit (correct) uninterrupted fuel flow. ``It has been established that unrestricted flow was also available from each supply tank to the corresponding engine fuel control unit, through the relevant fuel shut-off valves which were found set to the 'open' position.'' 

More than 100 people were in the popular city centre bar, near the River Clyde, at the time of the crash. 

Those killed in the pub were John McGarrigle, 57, Mark O'Prey, 44, Gary Arthur, 48, Colin Gibson, 33, Robert Jenkins, 61, and Samuel McGhee, 56. 

Customer Joe Cusker, 59, was pulled from the wreckage alive but died in hospital from his injuries almost two weeks later.

In total, more than 30 people were taken to hospital after the crash. 

There have been calls for a public inquiry into the safety of all commercial flights in the UK in the wake of the incident.

Last month, it emerged that the helicopter operator had begun making interim payments to the victims.

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