Balpa alters stance on release of black box data

Balpa has put the brakes on its appeal against a release of flight data from the Sumburgh helicopter crash which killed four people in 2013.

The pilots’ union had previously taken a stand against Scotland’s top law officer following Frank Mulholland’s request for the aircraft’s data recorder to be swiftly passed on by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

But it now says it understands the AAIB investigation is “well advanced”. The union has also highlighted “sensible conditions” which mean analysis from the data can only be undertaken under strict confidentiality.

It comes as chief executive of helicopter safety association HeliOffshore, Gretchen Haskins, has insisted hard lessons have been learned in the industry since the tragedy off Garths Ness took place – despite mounting cost pressures in the industry which recently sparked fears among union leaders that safety could be compromised.

In an unattributed statement, Balpa said the union’s concern over the release of the black box data had been one of timing.

“While pilots remain deeply concerned about the safety implications of this unprecedented legal intervention by the Crown in an ongoing safety investigation, Balpa understands that the investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Branch into the Sumburgh accident is now well advanced.

“Pilots fully understand it is difficult for the families of those affected by accidents to wait for this necessarily time-consuming investigation process to conclude.

“However, it is essential the AAIB is able to complete its painstaking, difficult and vital work without distraction.

“Pilots also need to feel unconstrained when giving their evidence and want to protect the trusted international agreement they have with specialist accident investigators.

“Given that, in this case, the AAIB has now completed the substantive part of its investigation and issued its draft report to interested parties for comment, Balpa will no longer contest the court’s ruling that limited cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder data may be released early to the Lord Advocate. The court imposed sensible conditions which mean analysis may only be undertaken under strict confidentiality and important non-disclosure and redaction caveats must also be observed.”

• For full story, see this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.