THE partner of the Renfrewshire pilot flying the police helicopter that crashed into a Glasgow bar has urged a sheriff not to find him at fault for the tragedy.

Ten people were killed and 31 injured when the helicopter crashed through the roof of the Clutha Vaults bar in November 2013.

Lochwinnoch man David Traill, 51, the pilot, died along with the police officers 43-year-old Tony Collins, from Clarkston, and Kirsty Nelis, 36, in the helicopter. The seven customers killed in the pub were Paisley man Gary Arthur, 48, Joe Cusker, 59, Colin Gibson, 33, Robert Jenkins, 61, John McGarrigle, 57, Samuel McGhee, 56, and Mark O’Prey, 44.

READ MORE: Clutha police helicopter crash pilot ‘received five low-fuel warnings’

Lucy Thomas, who was engaged to Captain Traill, has said that no pilot could have safely landed the helicopter in the circumstances and that he had not received adequate training.

The Gazette: op: left to right) David Traill; PC Kirsty Nelis; PC Tony Collins; Gary Arthur; Samuel McGhee (Bottom: left to right) Colin Gibson; Robert Jenkins; Mark O'Prey; John McGarrigle; Joe Cuskerop: left to right) David Traill; PC Kirsty Nelis; PC Tony Collins; Gary Arthur; Samuel McGhee (Bottom: left to right) Colin Gibson; Robert Jenkins; Mark O'Prey; John McGarrigle; Joe Cusker

In a statement to the fatal accident inquiry (FAI), she said he was misled into thinking there was enough fuel in the aircraft because of faulty readings on its caution advisory display (CAD).

The three-month inquiry into the crash, which the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found was caused by pilot error, closed this month.

The Crown has asked Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull to adopt the findings of the AAIB report in full.

According to The Times, Dr Thomas’s submission said: “On the basis it is probable that the fuel indication displayed to Captain Traill was overreading, the inquiry should find that the accident could have been avoided had the information and training given to pilots relating to the operation of the aircraft made clear that: a) the fuel caution and fuel warning systems were entirely independent and did not operate on the same systems; and b) that the fuel warning system took priority over the fuel caution system.

“Had this been made clear to Captain Traill, it is likely his initial reaction on receiving a fuel warning would have been to land the helicopter.”

Dr Thomas’s submission also dismissed suggestions that Captain Traill could have safely landed the aircraft when both engines “flamed out”. It added: “Captain Traill was an extremely accomplished and experienced pilot.

“It was acknowledged by the test pilot for the manufacturer that, where there is fuel starvation in both engines at the height at which G-SPAO [the helicopter] was and without an open area in front of it, the aircraft was doomed.

“It is highly improbable that any pilot could have landed G-SPAO at night, in an urban environment, from a height of 500-600ft within a time frame of less than ten seconds.”

Dr Thomas has asked Sheriff Principal Turnbull to find that Captain Traill did not sabotage the aircraft and was not engaged in deliberate risk-taking.

The inquiry was told that he acknowledged warnings about low fuel during the latter stages of the flight but did not make a mayday call.

The Gazette:

An AAIB report in 2015 concluded that he did not follow emergency protocol. It found fuel transfer pumps were turned off.

Dr Thomas’s submission argued that pilots routinely turned off fuel transfer pumps when they were running dry but said Captain Traill was not told it was not necessary to so on that aircraft.

Families of other victims said a malfunction in the CAD system was a contributing factor and called for better training for pilots in relation to low fuel warnings.

READ MORE: Lochwinnoch helicopter pilot was safe pair of hands, inquiry told

John McGarrigle, whose father, John, was killed, said: “Given Captain Traill’s flying history . . . it is likely there was a failure of some part of the CAD which caused Captain Traill to fail to place confidence in what he was being told and not land within ten minutes of the low fuel warning being activated.”

Mary Kavanagh, the partner of Robert Jenkins, stated: “The evidence disclosed that, over a number of years, there had been issues relating to the fuel systemsand false fuel readings on the CAD. The court will wish to consider whether such an experienced pilot believed the warnings were in some way false or illusory and accordingly he felt he could, with impunity, ignore them.”

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