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Police Scotland (Bond Helicopters) – Clutha Pub, Glasgow, Scotland

On 29 November 2013, a Police Scotland Eurocopter EC135 helicopter operated by Bond Helicopters came down on top of the Clutha pub in central Glasgow. The three occupants of the helicopter and seven ground victims were killed, and a number of people in the pub were injured.

Jim Morris represented ground victims who had been injured and families who had lost loved ones.

Although the accident involved a modern twin engine Eurocopter EC135 helicopter, under the applicable rules, the helicopter was below the weight above which helicopters are required to be fitted with Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) “black box” equipment. This meant that in the months following the accident the preliminary reports from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) identified that both engines lost power due to fuel starvation, but they could not determine at an early stage the full chain of events that caused the fuel starvation.

The final accident report was not published until 23 October 2015 and, due to the limited evidence available, it was still not possible for the investigators to determine why both fuel transfer pumps in the main tank remained off during the latter part of the flight, why the helicopter did not land within the time specified following activation of the low fuel warnings, and why a MAYDAY call was not received from the pilot.

Due to the high profile of this tragedy, on 21 October 2015, ahead of the formal publication of the final report, the AAIB provided the victims and families with a private briefing on the accident report. Dozens of journalists and TV crews awaited for the families to emerge from the briefing to provide comment on the report. Due to the pressure that this would place on his clients, Jim provided support by managing the press and providing a rapid analysis of the 102 page report, so that he could provide interviews to the press on behalf of the victims and families. Since the accident he has actively promoted a change of the rules to require all commercial passenger carrying helicopters to be fitted with black box equipment. To the press he reiterated how the lack of a “black box” had hampered the investigation and that the lack of a requirement to fit this equipment almost left more unanswered questions; in particular, the report could not fully determine why fuel did not reach the engines.

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