A pilot union’s legal challenge to stop a black box recorder from a helicopter crash in the North Sea being given to Scotland’s top law officer has been dropped.
Prosecutors won the right to get access to the cockpit voice recorder from the North Sea Super Puma crash earlier this year.
A judge ruled that the Crown Office should be allowed to examine the black box which was taken from the chopper which went down on its approach to Sumburgh Airport in Shetland.
Four people died in the tragedy in August 2013 and the Air Accident Investigation Branch is still investigating the incident.
A total of 18 people were on board when the Super Puma crashed.
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland had argued that gaining access to the recording was necessary to speed up the criminal investigation.
However, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said the move could damage an open safety culture amongst pilots if data was to be used to assign blame before air accident specialists had completed their investigations.(TUE) the Crown Office confirmed that Balpa had now abandoned an appeal against that decision.
The recording device has been in the hands of the Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the body investigating the cause of the crash.
Balpa confirmed the union was no longer proceeding with the appeal.
A union spokesman said: “Our concern throughout this process has 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. This enables the thorough monitoring of the flight deck which is vital in helping establish the causes of accidents so we can prevent them happening again.
“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.”
Lord Jones, who presided over the case, said that the recorder would provide the lord advocate with accurate and reliable evidence to assist the criminal investigation and help determine whether to launch a prosecution.
And he said he was satisfied that disclosure in this case would have no adverse domestic or international impact on the current investigation or on any future safety investigation.
A Crown Office spokesperson said: “The families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy have been advised of this and will continue to be updated in relation to any other significant developments.
“The investigation into the circumstances of the crash that resulted in the deaths continues.”