The AAIU wishes to extend its sincere sympathies to the families and friends of the crew of R116.
The Chief Inspector of Air Accidents, Mr. Jurgen Whyte, in consultation with the appointed Investigator-in-Charge, Mr. Paul Farrell, wishes to make the following statement.
An AAIU investigation into the circumstances of the loss of R116 is underway. As with all AAIU investigations, this Investigation will be evidence based.
The Investigation has been working with the Garda Siochana, Coast Guard, Irish Air Corps, the Irish Marine institute, and many local persons and agencies with the primary objective of locating and recovering the missing crew members.
In addition, the AAIU is anxious to recover and examine as much wreckage as possible, and in particular to recover the combined voice and flight data recorder (“black box”). The AAIU, in accordance with international convention, has an Accredited Representative from the US National Transportation Safety Board (as state of design and manufacture); that representative has advisers from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the aircraft manufacturer. The AAIU has also received assistance, support and advice from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch two of whose inspectors attended Blacksod.
A significant amount of wreckage has been recovered from the sea and this has been logged and will be brought to the AAIU wreckage facility in Gormanston, Co Meath, for detailed examination.
Furthermore, the AAIU has visited Black Rock Light House, on the approaches to Blacksod bay, which is close to the last recorded position of the helicopter. Some helicopter wreckage has been recovered from the general area of Black Rock Light House. This wreckage is primarily from the tail area of the helicopter. At this early stage in the investigation it is not possible to be definitive about the exact nature of damage to the recovered wreckage or indeed the circumstances of the accident. However, there appears to be marks on some of the recovered wreckage which are consistent with the tail of the aircraft contacting rocky surfaces on the Western end of Blackrock. The Investigation has not yet definitively identified the initial point of impact.
Equipment aboard surface search vessels has detected a signal which is believed to be from the underwater locator beacon attached to the aircraft’s “Black Box”. This signal points toward an area which will be the focus of further, multi-agency investigation activities at the earliest opportunity, subject to weather.