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Family History

Extract from:
Daily Mail
21st September 1984

Bio-rhythms are blamed in air crash

A helicopter pilot's bio-rhythms were partly to blame for a crash that killed all six people on board, according to a Department of Transport report. Accident investigators say that he was flying 'at a time of day when human performance is at a low ebb.'

The pilot had been woken in the early hours of the morning to fly a medical team to an accident in the North Sea. But lack of sleep and a busy day beforehand had left him tired and disorientated.

In their report into the crash of the British helicopter off the Shetlands two years ago, the investigators say: 'It has been shown that moderate sleep loss has an adverse effect on complex decision-making and also results in occasional lapses of alertness.

'The combined effect of circadian rhythms, loss of sleep and a busy day previously would not have been beneficial and an overall lowering of performance level cannot be discounted.'

The crash happened in atrocious weather, as the helicopter was on its way to the oilfield support ship Baffin Seal.

The last message from the pilot was that he was descending to try to find the ship. He was making right turn, probably to extend the search area, when the craft plunged into the sea.

Two empty lifeboats were later found and two bodies recovered.

As well as disrupted bio-rhythms, the report says the driving rain and poor visibility coupled with total darkness contributed to the disaster.

And although there was no evidence of mechanical defects, failure in an electrical system in the helicopter could not be ruled out.

One of their six recommendations to improve safety is that 'black box' flight recorders should be fitted to as wide a range of helicopters as possible.

Altimeters, including audio as well as visual height warning should be fitted to all helicopters operating off-shore around Britain.

The men who died in the accident were: Captain Alistair Mackie, Captain Robin Rusk, 35, Winchman Stan Ormiston, 48, Dr. Alan Farquarhason, 28, medical assistant Jeff Hagen, 37, and 33-year-old Robert Marfleet.

The report does not give the name of the man at the controls of the helicopter when it crashed.


See also: Bob Marfleet's Memorial

© Marfleet Family History 2000

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