As reported by the BBC, the Lord Advocate (Scotland’s top prosecutor) is taking legal action in a bid to recover cockpit voice recorder data relating to the fatal Super Puma helicopter crash off the coast of Shetland in 2013. The data is currently held by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
The proceedings have been raised under Section 18 of the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996. That regulation allows the Court of Session to order disclosure if it is satisfied that the interests of justice outweighs any adverse domestic and international impact which disclosure may have on the accident investigation. The Court would also need to be satisfied that there is no rule of law that requires the data to be withheld on the ground that disclosure would be injurious to the public interest.
A hearing has now been set down to take place on 19 May. These proceedings are unusual but, if successful, it is likely the Lord Advocate will repeat this approach in future cases if required.
The full investigation into the accident is yet to conclude. A Fatal Accident Inquiry (under the 1976 Act) will normally be held following incidents such as this.
The accident was the fourth of its kind in five years and led to a Civil Aviation Authority inquiry and subsequent measures to increase safety in the offshore helicopter industry. If you would like to discuss this or any of the new helicopter safety measures, contact me or your usual contact in the Brodies H&S team.
On March 26, 2015