Blackbox signal detected in search for Rescue 116 helicopter

Detecting the signal is considered hugely significant, with emergency service now aware of the flight recorder’s position off Blackrock lighthouse

Blackbox signal detected in search for Rescue 116 helicopter

Emergency Services continue to search for three missing members of the Irish Coast Guard at Blacksod Bay, 15-03-2017. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

Emergency services engaged in the search for three missing crew members from Rescue 116 have detected a ‘ping’ from the Coast Guard helicopter’s black box recorder.

A major search operation has been ongoing throughout the day.

Detecting the signal is considered hugely significant, with emergency service now aware of the flight recorder’s position off Blackrock lighthouse.

The search operation will now move to a smaller vessel as soon as it is safe to do so, with divers expected to be sent to retrieve the recorder.

Jurgen Whyte, the chief aeronautical officer with the Air Accident Investigation Unit said locating the ping is “hugely significant.”

“Other investigation authorities have spent months literally trying to do the same thing.”

“We have been very lucky that within less than 36 hours we have picked up what is a signal.

“What that means is that the recorder has activated its beacon and we are now using sophisticated equipment to home in on this signal itself.”

The Coast Guard is reportedly pleased with how the search has proceeded today after difficulties with rough seas and visibility this morning.

During searches on Tuesday, the Coast Guard said debris was found spread over a wide area.

The LÉ Eithne naval vessel kept searching through the night, while a survey vessel carried out a sonar search.

Navy and garda divers, Ballyglass and Achill lifeboats, the LÉ Roisin, a fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters are also involved in the operation.

Meanwhile the Transport Minister Shane Ross met with the families of the Rescue 116 crew in Blacksod today.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was confirmed dead yesterday, but Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith are still missing.

Minister Ross said it has been a devastating experience for the families involved and pledged to make every resource available to find out what happened.

“We’ve just met members of the families and it has been a very, very devastating experience for them,” he said

“They are completely and utterly devastated by what has happened and we have saluted them for the extraordinary bravery which they are showing in this situation and for the family members which they lent to the nation who have done such extraordinary work and have given their lives for other people.

“The idea that people whose purpose in life, whose motivation in life is to save lives have lost their own lives themselves makes it more poignant than ever.”