The Irish Coast Guard has confirmed that one of its search-and-rescue helicopters, a Sikorsky S-92 operated by CHC Helicopters, was involved in an accident off the west coast of Ireland.
The Coast Guard has launched a major sea search operation off the county Mayo coast approximately six miles west of Blacksod. The search continues for three missing Irish Coast Guard crew members after it confirmed that one of its most senior pilots, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, died in the accident.
Two SAR helicopters, as well as a number of vessels, have been searching for the missing crew members.
CHC Helicopters said in a statement:
“Earlier today, there was an accident involving one of our S92 search and rescue aircraft off the west coast of Ireland. At approximately 0100 local time, contact with the aircraft was lost and a major search and rescue operation commenced off the County Mayo coast, approximately six miles west of Blacksod. That search continues.
“Today is a very sad day for all of the CHC family, but particularly for our team in Ireland. We are devastated by this morning’s tragic accident and our hearts are with the crew and the families of the crews involved.
“On behalf of everyone at CHC, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of the emergency services and organizations involved in the search, rescue and recovery mission underway, including the CHC team in Ireland as they participate in the search for their colleagues.
Brian Strutton, BALPA General Secretary, said:
“We’re shocked and saddened by the news of the coastguard helicopter crash off the coast of Ireland and our thoughts are with the crew and their families, as well as all of our Irish colleagues who will be affected by this tragedy.
“All pilots will now want to ensure that the Irish accident investigators, the AAIU, can thoroughly and speedily get to the bottom of the cause of this accident, especially given the type of aircraft involved, so as to ensure future flight safety in the helicopter sector across Europe.”