Reasons behind Copterline accident near Tallinn remain unclear
When presenting its initial report in Tallinn on Monday, the commission of inquiry investigating the cause of the Copterline accident in August announced that for the time being, the reason for the accident remains unknown.
"We know what happened, but as yet, there is no indication of what may have caused the crash", said the Vice Chairman of the commission of inquiry, Tonu Ader.
The investigations are still in progress, and the commission is scheduled to publish its final findings next autumn.
Twelve passengers and two crew members died on Wednesday August 10th, when a Finnish Copterline helicopter, on a scheduled flight from Tallinn to Helsinki, crashed into the Gulf of Finland just outside the Estonian capital. The helicopter dropped from an altitude of 457 metres in 37 seconds.
"However, it has been determined that the helicopter's damage occurred after impact with the water and not in the air, and that the engines were in operation until the craft came into contact with water", said Ader.
Furthermore, nothing in the examination of the wreckage or the flight recorder apparently indicates that there would have been any major structural failure, metal fatigue, or a fault in the gear transmission. Even a fire, a collision with a flock of birds, and an act of terrorism have been ruled out. Moreover, pilot error is regarded as unlikely.
The black box indicated that one of the pilots had repeated the word "mayday" three times. However, the call was not picked up by air traffic control.
The initial report on the helicopter crash was to be made public yesterday - on Monday. After it had been presented to Estonia's trade and communications ministry as well as to the families of the Estonians who died in the crash, the relatives of the victims requested that the findings would remain unpublished. The commission will discuss the matter and give their decision later this week.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Crew of ill-fated helicopter tried to send emergency message (23.8.2005)
Flight recorder of stricken helicopter to be sent to Britain for analysis (15.8.2005)
Fourteen passengers and crew dead after helicopter crashes in the sea off Estonian coast (10.8.2005)