No Mayday call before Clutha helicopter crashed

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  By Angela Haggerty
 
The pilot of the police helicopter which crashed into the Clutha Vaults bar on Friday night did not issue a mayday signal before it came down, it emerged as the remains of the wreckage was removed from the site to allow a full investigation to begin.
 
Air accident investigators said that the helicopter made a “vertical descent” before it crashed onto the roof of the Clutha bar, confirming earlier reports from eyewitnesses that the aircraft “dropped like a stone”.

David Miller, deputy chief inspector of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), said nothing detached from the helicopter before it crashed and he said investigators hoped the aircraft’s systems would provide clues into the cause of the tragedy.

“I can confirm that the helicopter does not have a flight data recorder,” he said.  “However, it does have a significant number of modern electronic systems on board and it may be possible to recover recorded data from those systems.  There were no emergency transmissions from the pilot before this accident.”

Nine people have been confirmed dead and rescue workers said a final search of the bar was underway following the removal of the helicopter wreckage early on Monday.  The aircraft was soon prepared for transportation to the AAIB in Farnborough for detailed examination.

Helicopter pilot David Traill, 51, was killed in the crash along with his companions PCs Kirsty Nelis, 36, and PC Tony Collins, 43.  Customers Samuel McGhee, 56, and Gary Arthur, 48 – the father of under-19 Scotland international and Celtic women’s team footballer Chloe Arthur – have been confirmed as two of the six people who died in the bar.

Shock has reverberated across the country since the crash happened at 10.25pm on Friday evening.  Around 120 people were packed inside the busy pub listening to live music when tragedy struck.  In the immediate aftermath there were reports of numbers of people nearby rushing to the pub in an attempt to help rescue survivors.

Thirty-two people were taken to hospital with injuries, 12 of whom are still being treated in hospital.  Three people are being treated in a specialist spinal injuries unit at Glasgow’s Western Infirmary.

Tributes have poured in for the victims and their families, as well as messages of thanks and well wishes for the emergency services.  Hundreds of people attended a mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Sunday morning – a short distance away from the crash site – and a book of condolences has been opened at Glasgow City Council chambers.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Tragedies do not define people, cities or countries.  They are defined by how we respond, how we endure and how we recover.  We have responses, we endure and Glasgow and Scotland will recover.”

Mr Salmond added his own tributes to the emergency services, both on-scene and those who died in the crash.

“It is a difficult time for all of our emergency services, and particularly those police officers who have lost their close colleagues,” he said.  “The way in which the emergency services have responded to an incident of this scale is exemplary.”

A House of Commons debate took place on Monday afternoon, where MPs from across the UK expressed condolences.

Meanwhile, as tributes were received from across the UK and beyond, members of the public expressed anger after British celebrity and former The Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins tweeted a joke about Scots’ life expectancy in the aftermath of the crash.  She apologised on Monday after more than 30,000 people signed a petition within hours calling for TV programmes to drop her from schedules.