1 December 2019

Sunday Times news report highlights urgent need for overhaul of aviation regulation in Ireland


A Sunday Times report into the 2017 ‘Rescue 116’ coast guard helicopter crash, in which all four crew perished, has raised hard hitting questions that must be urgently addressed, the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association has warned.


The article, ‘What really happened to R116?’, published today, underscores the “lack of state oversight”, as highlighted in the Interim Air Accident Investigation (AAIU) Report, published in 2018.


Commenting on the Sunday Times coverage, Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) President Capt. Evan Cullen said:


“We will not comment on a leaked accident report. However, we are pleased that the Sunday Times has exposed wider issues, including; concerns around fatigue risk management, which IALPA had brought to the attention of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) as far back as 2009, failures to address inaccurate navigational information, and confusion at state level regarding oversight for search and rescue in Ireland.”


In October 2017, an Oireachtas Transport Committee hearing was adjourned after IALPA president, Capt. Evan Cullen, stated that the Irish Aviation Authority does not respond to pilots who raise safety concerns with the Authority. In December 2017, IALPA provided every member of the Transport Committee with a 213-page dossier detailing serious concerns over safety, almost all of which had been shared with the IAA.


Since 2003, IALPA has repeatedly raised concerns about safety matters including:


  • Safety equipment
  • Safety reporting systems
  • Safety management systems
  • Safety culture
  • Flight time limits and fatigue risk management


Capt. Cullen commented: “The issues raised in the Sunday Times underscore the need for an urgent and thorough review of the aviation regulatory regime in Ireland.”


He added: “Aviation is a safety-critical sector. The safety interests of crew members are one hundred per cent aligned with the safety interests of the passengers we fly. However, our efforts to highlight multiple safety concerns over many years have been routinely disregarded by Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) senior management.


The IAA is required to ensure that civil aviation in this country adheres to the highest international standards of safety.


This news story and the release of the final report will be harrowing for the relatives of the crew of Rescue 116 and their colleagues. We are determined that concerns regarding aviation safety oversight will be kept at the forefront of the Government’s agenda so that the culture guiding aviation regulation in Ireland is overhauled.”


IALPA will respond in full when the final report is published by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU).






Notes to Editors:


For further information contact media@IALPA.net or call +353 87 335 4804


About IALPA:


As the representative body for 1,200 professional pilots in Ireland, IALPA’s membership includes the pilots of CHC. CHC winchmen are represented by IALPA’s parent union, Fórsa.


IALPAs technical remit includes:


  • Preserving the safety and security of crew members and the travelling public
  • Representing individual and collective technical concerns of members
  • Protecting confidential safety reporting systems, safety reports, and reporters while promoting a Just Safety Culture
  • Participating on technical and safety matters with other pilot and technical representatives at a national level, at a European level through European Cockpit Association (ECA) interactions with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and at the global level through International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) input to the development of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices