Updated: 28/12/17 : 08:16:50
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Rescue helicopter company's concern over profitability after fatal crash

The company that operated the R116 search and rescue helicopter that crashed off Co Mayo this year with the loss of its crew, has admitted that it may be subject to legal and regulatory proceedings that could materially affect its profitability.

Rescue 116 was at the time providing top cover for the Sligo-based Rescue 118 which was on a long range mission in the Atlantic.

CHC Ireland, which is now controlled by US-based CHC but has its roots in Canada, made the admission in the latest set of accounts published for the firm at the Companies Registration Office.

The R116 Sikorsky helicopter was providing top cover on a mission in March that involved the rescue of an injured fisherman from a UK-registered vessel about 240km off Ireland's west coast by the Sligo helicopter.

But the aircraft disappeared from radar at 12.45am on March 14. It had been returning to Blacksod, Co Mayo, to refuel but en route it crashed into Blackrock Island.

It later emerged that the island was not included on the helicopter's onboard warning system due to missing navigational data on maps published by the Irish Aviation Authority.

The four crew members of the R116 - Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith - died in the tragedy.

"Two investigations are currently under way by Republic of Ireland agencies," CHC Ireland directors noted in its most recently filed annual accounts.

They noted that one probe is being undertaken by the Air Accident Investigations Unit (AAIU) and another joint investigation being carried out by the Gardaí and the Health and Safety Authority.

CHC Ireland said it expected the full report from the AAIU to be released early in 2018, following a preliminary report that was published in April this year.

"This accident could result in legal and regulatory proceedings, which could materially impact our revenue and profitability," CHC Ireland noted in its accounts.

Irish Independent