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Helicopter attended false alarm call before Clutha crash

Pilot David Traill and his colleagues flew to a train station in Glasgow prior to the fatal tragedy.

Clutha: Ten people were killed.
Clutha: Ten people were killed.

A police helicopter that crashed into the Clutha pub killing ten people spent more than 30 minutes attending a false alarm call before its descent.

Pilot David Traill and his colleagues flew to a train station in Oatlands, Glasgow, prior to the tragedy on November 29, 2013.

A probe heard there had been reports of an incident there – but this turned out not to be the case.

The evidence emerged at the fatal accident inquiry into the crash being held at Hampden Park.

David Traill along with PC Tony Collins, 42, and PC Kirsty Nelis, 36, died.

Seven customers at the pub in the city’s Stockwell Street also lost their lives.

Tragedy: The helicopter crashed into the Clutha. The Clutha Bar via Facebook

They were Gary Arthur, 48, Joe Cusker, 59, Colin Gibson, 33, Robert Jenkins, 61, John McGarrigle, 57, Samuel McGhee, 56, and Mark O’Prey, 44.

The FAI heard about the helicopter’s journey before it plunged into the Clutha.

Marcus Cook, a senior inspector with the Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB), gave evidence about this.

Mr Cook: “There were reports of a crash at a train station which was attended for 33 minutes but nobody was found.”

The helicopter then flew towards Dalkeith, Midlothian.

There was then a brief 15 minute loss of radar due to the terrain.

The probe was then told the helicopter began to lose fuel as it headed back towards Glasgow.

Investigations showed the journey took in three areas of Lanarkshire – Bothwell, Uddingston and Bargeddie.

Police: The helicopter was previously sent to a false alarm.

The investigation also revealed two fuel warning lights were revealed to the pilot five times which was acknowledged by pilot.

Mr Cook said: “Two warnings were received from low fuel one before low fuel two came on and stayed on.

“Then, low fuel one came back on and stayed on.”

The FAI also heard an initial report into the crash had been written in 2015.

New evidence had then emerged, but this was not published.

Parts of the draft report which did not appear in the later edition have not been revealed to relatives of the victims.

Philip Sleight, deputy chief inspector of AAIB, said: “We have had some evidence that has been sent to us over the last few years for the FAI.

“In our judgement none of that was significant.

“It could be where we get something wrong and we are duty bound to make that change.

“We also have to work with regulations and I can’t talk about what is contained in draft reports.”

Donald Findlay QC criticised the way the investigation was being played out in front of families.

He said: “How are families supposed to follow what is being delivered at this speed?

“The crown must take matters to people without experience.”

The FAI continues before Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull.

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