Air accident investigators recommend review of route guides used by search and rescue helicopters

An initial report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash says the craft ‘pitched up rapidly’ in its final seconds.

The information has come from the Air Accident Investigation Unit which is analysing data recovered from the blackbox flight recorder.

The preliminary report also recommends there should be a review of route guides in use by search and rescue helicopters in Ireland, following confirmation that the aircraft warning system did NOT have data related to Blackrock Island, where the helicopter crashed.


The lighthouse on the Island did not show up as an obstacle and “the terrain of the island” was not listed on a terrain database.

It also showed that the helicopter was at a stable flight level as it approached the Island.

Audio from the black box revealed one of the crew members seated in the rear of the helicopter, identified an island in front and recommended a right turn.

However, in the final few seconds, the helicopter ‘pitched up rapidly’ and impacted with terrain at the western end of Blackrock.

Rescue 116 crashed into the island off County Mayo coast on the 14th of March, with the loss of all four crew members on board.

The bodies of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Captain Mark Duffy have been recovered.

The search continues for Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith.