Independent review to be carried out on search and rescue aviation operations

It comes after the loss of Coast Guard Rescue 116 and its crew

Independent review to be carried out on search and rescue aviation operations

This 2017 photo shows search scenes at Blacksod Bay for the crew of Rescue 116 | Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

An independent review is to be carried out into Search and Rescue (SAR) aviation operations here.

It is recommended in the interim statement by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) on their on-going investigation into the loss of Coast Guard Rescue 116 and its crew in March 2017.

The bodies of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Captain Mark Duffy were recovered following the loss of Rescue 116.

However their colleagues - Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith - remain lost at sea.

The AAIU report has called for a thorough review of the current arrangements.

This will be conducted by an independent team of experts over the coming months.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said: "The team I have appointed will be led by Professor Jules Kneepkens who brings vast experience in the international regulatory field.

"His team also includes a blend of SAR operational and ICAO audit expertise – all of which should ensure the review meets the requirements of the AAIU’s recommendation."

"Learning lessons at all levels"

The aim of the review is to ensure that Ireland's arrangements are "sufficiently robust" and measure up to international best practice models.

Minister Ross added: "As well as the independent review team, I am delighted that a number of other Coast Guards have offered to assist in the review process, thereby bringing a variety of international insights and experience to the final report and recommendations.

"I believe this is a reflection of the level of interest internationally in learning lessons at all levels from this tragic accident".

The terms of reference, agreed by the minister for the review, will take account of the various findings made in the AAIU's interim statement.

It will examine practices and procedures within various entities involved, and will also identify any gaps or lack of clarity in terms of roles, legal vires, processes, training, resources and/or personnel.

Minister Ross said he expects "good progress" to be made by mid-June, with a final report by end of July.