• STV
  • MySTV

Pilot error to blame for fatal Clutha helicopter crash

Three crew members and seven customers died following the incident in 2013.

Pilot error was to blame for the Clutha helicopter crash that claimed the lives of ten people, a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) has found.

Three crew members and seven customers died when a police aircraft fell into the roof of the Glasgow bar on November 29, 2013. A further 31 people in the pub were injured.

The FAI found the crash could have been prevented if pilot Captain David Traill had followed emergency procedures relating to low fuel warnings.

The inquiry concluded that the accident was caused by Captain Traill's failure to ensure that at least one of the fuel transfer pump switches was set to 'on'.

Victims: Colin Gibson, Mark O'Prey,  Samuel McGhee, Gary Arthur, Joe Cusker, John McGarrigle, David Traill, Tony Collins, Robert Jenkins and Kirsty Nelis.
Victims: Colin Gibson, Mark O'Prey, Samuel McGhee, Gary Arthur, Joe Cusker, John McGarrigle, David Traill, Tony Collins, Robert Jenkins and Kirsty Nelis.

Those who were in the helicopter were pilot Captain Traill, 51, PC Tony Collins, 43, and PC Kirsty Nelis, 36.

The seven customers were Gary Arthur, 48; Joe Cusker, 59; Colin Gibson, 33; Robert Jenkins, 61; John McGarrigle, 58; Samuel McGhee, 56; and Mark O'Prey, 44.

An inquiry looking into the incident was announced by the Crown Office in 2017 and took place at a temporary court at Hampden in Glasgow between April and August this year.

On Wednesday, the FAI findings were published.

Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull determined the crash was caused by the engines flaming out as a result of fuel starvation due to the supply tank becoming depleted.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) previously found the main cause of the incident to be fuel starvation.

Incident: The helicopter crashed into the pub.
Incident: The helicopter crashed into the pub. Crown Office

The report found that both the fuel transfer pump switches were in the 'off' position when the low fuel warnings were triggered.

It said that had one or both of them been switched back 'on' by Captain Traill, the helicopter would not have crashed.

The sheriff principal's determination found that there was enough time between the first and second engine flame-outs for Captain Traill to have switched on the fuel transfer pumps.

The inquiry heard that five low fuel warnings were acknowledged during the helicopter's final flight.

The Sheriff Principal said that by not carrying out the actions set out in the Pilot's Checklist, Captain Traill "consciously took a risk in proceeding on the basis that the low fuel warnings were in some way erroneous", with fatal consequences.

Glasgow: Ten people died after the crash.
Glasgow: Ten people died after the crash. Crown Office

'Two reasonable precautions'

Sheriff Turnbull found that there were "two reasonable precautions which could have been taken and, had they been taken, might realistically have resulted in the deaths being avoided".

  • For Captain Traill to have followed the procedure set down in a pilot's checklist in respect to low fuel warnings.  
  • For company Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmBH to have included a warning system and alarm which would have activated when both fuel transfer pumps had been switched off.

There were no defects in any system or training failures which contributed to the deaths, the FAI found.

The Sheriff Principal concluded that the circumstances of the accident were "so unusual that it is improbable they will be repeated, even without the introduction of the safety actions taken since the accident".

'It took far too long to lodge a notice of an inquiry in this case, although the inquiry itself was conducted with great efficiency for which all those responsible for its preparation and conduct are to be commended'
Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull

Sheriff Turnbull added: "The fact that it took more than two years from the publication of the AAIB report to the decision that there were to be no criminal proceedings is surprising, notwithstanding the extensive work carried out by Police Scotland and the Crown in the intervening period.

"It took far too long to lodge a notice of an inquiry in this case, although the inquiry itself was conducted with great efficiency for which all those responsible for its preparation and conduct are to be commended.

"The Crown was not sufficiently resourced to enable the inquiry to start far sooner than it did."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.