PRESS RELEASE – August 24, 2018

The review of Search and Rescue service, commissioned by Transport Minister Shane Ross in the wake of the R116 helicopter crash in April 2017, yet to be published, appears to indicate “serious confusion and conflict of interest” at the heart of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) operations.

The Review did not directly examine the circumstances of the crash that led to the loss of four rescuers off the County Mayo coast, but according to Brid Smith TD, (People Before Profit, Dublin South Central)  “the outcome of the review could possibly guide any investigation into the crash as to what may have gone wrong”.

The IAA is mandated as a commercial entity and has a corporate structure and this appears to conflict with its remit for safety regulatory oversight functions.

The IAA is unique as a commercial organisation insofar as it is able to create its own statutory instruments, is not subject of FOI or the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. The IAA is an example of the problems with “light touch” regulation that is commonplace accross all industries and sectors in this state.

Deputy Smith believes that this loose regulation structure may have led to some innovative interpretation of International Safety Regulations which in turn may have been a contributory factor to the fatal crash in Mayo.

The recommendation of the Review Body needs to be implemented immediately, along with a complete overhaul of the structures of the IAA that would remove its commercial interests from its fundamental function of the regulation of aviation safety, including that of search and rescue.

Deputy Smith concluded “The tragic loss of life occurred in circumstances where the mapping software and the safety equipment were completely inadequate. This at the very minimum should be a wake-up call to the Minister and the Government, to transform the remit and structure of the IAA to make the regulatory body fully accountable and to ensure that what happened on that fatal night in April 2017, never happens again.”



Contact Brid Smith TD 087 9090166