The fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into a police helicopter crash that claimed 10 lives could hear from up to 85 Crown witnesses.
The figure emerged at a preliminary hearing in Glasgow, which also heard there are just under 1,400 Crown productions lodged ahead of the probe into the Clutha pub tragedy.
Due to begin in April, the FAI before a sheriff at Hampden Park is expected to involve around three months’ of evidence spread over six calendar months this year.
It has emerged Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull, who is overseeing the FAI, has asked to see an operational helicopter similar to the one at the centre of the inquiry.
The pilot, two crew members and seven customers died when the Police Scotland helicopter crashed on to the roof of the Clutha pub in Glasgow on November 29, 2013.
A preliminary hearing was held at Hampden Park on Tuesday to allow all 17 parties connected to the case to update the sheriff on their state of preparation.
Senior counsel Sean Smith QC, who is leading the inquiry for the Crown, said: “At least in terms of the Crown, something in the order of three months of actual court time is anticipated will be required.”
The current timetable represented the Crown’s “best estimate”, he said, adding: “The estimate previously given to the court of the order of six months is probably best to adhere to at this stage.”
During the Crown’s statements, the sheriff mentioned there were currently “85 witnesses and just shy of 1,400 productions”.
Peter Gray QC, representing Babcock, later referred to the sheriff’s “request to see a helicopter and see it in operation”.
He said Babcock would be “happy in principle to accommodate” the request.
Meanwhile, Gordon Jackson QC, representing victim Gary Arthur’s father Gordon, pointed to the volume of paperwork and reading involved in preparing for the case.
He said: “To say that we are reading through it manfully is to put it mildly. It’s quite a task, as you can imagine.”
Mr Jackson also sought clarity on the order in which the lawyers would cross-examine witnesses, suggesting those with the most technical knowledge should lead questioning on technical matters.
A previous preliminary hearing last month was told legal aid assistance has been granted to several family members who had requested it.
But it heard that while Ian O’Prey, the father of victim Mark O’Prey, has been granted legal aid, he was initially unable to pay the contribution requested by the Legal Aid Board.
Alexander Sutherland, representing Mr O’Prey on Wednesday, confirmed he has now been able to pay his initial contribution.
More than 100 people were at the Clutha when the helicopter, returning to its base on the banks of the River Clyde, crashed through the roof of the pub in 2013.
Pub customers Mr O’Prey, Mr Arthur, John McGarrigle, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins, Samuel McGhee and Joe Cusker died, while pilot David Traill and crew Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis were also killed.
An Air Accidents Investigation Branch report published in 2015 found two fuel supply switches were off and the pilot did not follow emergency procedures after a fuel warning in the cockpit.
The sheriff fixed the next preliminary hearing to take place at Hampden Park on April 3, just days before the full probe is set to begin.