THE engineer who worked on the Clutha helicopter the day before its doomed final flight had warned an "accident is waiting to happen."

Craig Booth, a licensed engineer at Glasgow Heliport, wrote the words in a handover note at the end of his shift hoping management would take heed, a court heard.

Mr Booth told the Clutha Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) he was concerned about the workload of engineers at Glasgow Heliport.

The inquiry also heard that issues with one of the fuel sensors on helicopter G-SPAO, which crashed in Glasgow on the night of November 29, 2013, were recorded on November 24.

READ MORE: Low fuel warning was 'modified out' of chopper

However, the observation was made on a sticky note in the base's engineer diary, rather than being formally logged in a deferred defect log.

Had it been noted in the log, the fuel sensor would have had to have been replaced within three days.

It was not replaced before the Police Scotland helicopter's final flight.

The inquiry, at Hampden Park, has previously heard that pilot David Traill would have seen five low fuel warnings in the aircraft before it crashed into the Clutha Vaults Bar at 22.22pm.

Any pilot, the court has heard, should land within 10 minutes of a low fuel warning but the helicopter carried on to other operations following the red warnings.

The court was shown Mr Booth's end of shift report, sent to colleagues at 3.53am on November 28, 2013.

In it, he wrote: "I am extremely concerned at the way we are having to carry out in depth maintenance on our aircraft at Glasgow.

"It is an accident waiting to happen!!"

Mr Booth told the court: "I didn't think for a moment it would be an air accident. I just wanted my management to know how I felt at the end of a very busy shift."

READ MORE: Low fuel warning was 'modified out' of chopper

Gordon Jackson QC, counsel for the family of victim Gary Arthur, said: "You put that statement in your report and that report would go to senior management. What response did you get?"

Mr Booth replied: "None."

Mr Jackson went on to say: "It's a pretty strong statement. You might have expected at least someone to discuss it with you.

"And you did expect that, but it never happened. Did you do anything about that?"

Mr Booth replied: "Circumstances overtook."

Mr Booth told the court that to keep on top of his workload at Glasgow Heliport he frequently went "above and beyond," working additional hours and was described as "coming off work absolutely shattered."

A technical log entry dated July 8, 2013, was shown to the court which detailed an issue with the fuel sensor in the main fuel tank of the Police Scotland helicopter.

The helicopter had been re-fueled but the level of fuel shown on a display inside in the cockpit differed from the amount in the tank.

Mr Booth's end of shift report of November 28, the court heard, also stated: "Fuel contents after refuelling drops after a period of time in main tank.

"Main fuel probe in AO bin when if [CORR] we get time to change it."

The court was shown the technical log from November 24 to November 28 where there was no mention of the fuel sensor problem that had been recorded on the yellow sticky note in the engineer's diary.

Donald Findlay, for the family of victim Robert Jenkins, questioned whether the engineer taking over on the new shift, in this case Ian Taylor, would speak to Mr Booth to go over the details of any outstanding jobs.

Mr Findlay suggested Mr Booth's note in the tech log "didn't carry any urgency" and was "almost a suggestion" that the sensor might need changed.

Mr Booth said: "It's badly written by me."

Mr Findlay added: "This is quite important to a number of people."

Mr Booth replied: "Yes, I know that."

In the afternoon the inquiry heard from licensed helicopter engineer Andrew Bochel, now semi-retired but working for Babcock.

He was the engineer on duty on the day of the crash at Inverness heliport, where G-SPAO landed twice on the day in question.


Pilot David Traill, 51; PC Tony Collins, 43; and PC Kirsty Nelis, 36, died along with seven customers who were in the bar, Gary Arthur, 48; Joe Cusker, 59; Colin Gibson, 33; Robert Jenkins, 61; John McGarrigle, 58; Samuel McGhee, 56; and Mark O'Prey, 44.

The inquiry before Principal Sheriff Craig Turnbull continues.