Clutha pilot ‘very good’ in proficiency check months before crash, inquiry hears

The pilot of a helicopter which crashed and killed 10 people was deemed “very good” in a proficiency check just months before the accident, an inquiry has heard.

Pilot David Traill died along with crew members Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis when the aircraft crashed on to the roof of the Clutha Vaults on November 29, 2013.

Pub customers Mark O’Prey, Gary Arthur, John McGarrigle, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins, Samuel McGhee and Joe Cusker were also killed.

On Tuesday a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) was shown a document detailing an operator proficiency check (OPC) on Mr Traill from January 2013.

Christopher Redfern was the training captain at the time and now holds the position of head of flight operations at Babcock.

Glasgow helicopter crash
Police and fire crews at the scene of the crash on November 29 2013 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The 45-year-old was asked by Gordon Lamont, advocate for the Crown, if he had any issues with Mr Traill during the assessment and replied “no”.

In a section marked crew resource management Mr Traill was deemed “very good” with Mr Redfern saying the overall standard of the training was considered “acceptable”.

Mr Redfern said he “might have done his OPC six times”, with these two-hour checks held every six months in a simulator.

He also guessed he carried out 60-70 OPCs a year across the company as a training captain, and continues to do so on rare occasions in his new role.

While working as a training captain, Mr Redfern also told the inquiry he had “never been trained to fly a helicopter outside its limits”.

Hampden Park
The fatal accident inquiry is being held at Hampden Park (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Questions were also raised over the simulations when Mr Lamont asked if he was able to tell what happened if an aircraft’s rotor speed fell below 75%.

Mr Redfern replied: “I’ve never seen the simulator helicopter fall out the sky, Airbus pilots might be able to tell you what would happen.”

When asked to clarify what he meant, he added the simulator “will try its best” to replicate the circumstances, but “tilts then just flies away, which I don’t know if it’s representable of a real aircraft”.

The inquiry before Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull, at a temporary court in Glasgow’s Hampden Park, continues on Wednesday.

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