Glasgow Copter Had Fuel Before Flame-Out in Pub Crash Killing 10

Feb 14, 2014 7:01 pm ET

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- British investigators are trying to determine why the engines stopped on a police helicopter before it crashed into a Glasgow pub, killing 10 people, while there was still fuel left on board.

Tests on engines and valves recovered from the wreckage didn’t find any faults that would explain the Nov. 29 incident, the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch said yesterday in a bulletin. The transmission, hydraulics and electrical system also appear to have been functioning as normal, the agency said.

The Airbus Group NV EC135 helicopter lacked voice and data recorders, forcing the agency to rely on other evidence. A civilian pilot and both police officers on the EC135 were killed along with seven people on the ground in Scotland’s biggest city. Eleven people were hurt seriously.

Investigators are trying to assess “why a situation arose that led to both the helicopter’s engines flaming out when 76 kg of fuel remained in the fuel tank group,” the agency said in the bulletin. The agency said it also sought to learn why there wasn’t an effort to ease the helicopter’s descent or an emergency call from the pilot, who had 5,592 flight hours.

Seventy-six kilograms of jet fuel for the EC135’s turbine engines would be equivalent to 168 pounds.

The inquiry has determined that almost all the remaining fuel was in the main tank, with a left supply tank almost drained and another empty. There was no evidence pipes between the tanks were blocked, the accidents agency said.

“We now know that the engines were not running at the time of the crash and it appears this was to do with the fuel system,” the British Airline Pilots’ Association said in a statement.

Settling on the cause of an accident “takes time,” Airbus Helicopters said. The company, a unit of Toulouse, France-based Airbus, said it wouldn’t speculate on the crash while it continues to aid investigators.

--Editors: Ed Dufner, Molly Schuetz