Shetland helicopter inquiry: Committee in Aberdeen

Helicopters such as the Super Puma have come under increasing scrutiny following a series of crashes. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Helicopters such as the Super Puma have come under increasing scrutiny following a series of crashes. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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WESTMINSTER’S Transport Committee is to visit Aberdeen next week to take evidence from helicopter companies and offshore unions as part of their wide-ranging inquiry into helicopter safety in the wake of the Super Puma disaster off Shetland last August.

MPS announced plans for their investigation last September following the crash in which four oil workers were killed - the fifth incident involving North Sea helicopters in four years.

Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, lost their lives in the tragedy.

The committee is investigating the safety of offshore helicopter flights in the UK, comparing the UK’s safety record with that of other countries, and examining what steps could be taken by industry to improve the safety of offshore flights.

On Monday the members of the Transport Committee will he holding a public evidence session at Aberdeen University when they will take evidence from the heads of the three main helicopter companies operating in the North Sea, senior officials of the pilots’ and offshore unions, and oil industry leaders.

Louise Ellman, the Labour chair of the Transport Committee, said today, “Helicopter accidents in the offshore sector is a major cause for concern. After the events of last summer involving helicopter fatalities off the Shetland Isles, the committee decided to look closely at what might be done to curb the risks that offshore workers face from helicopter transport.

“We are coming to Aberdeen to hear from workers themselves, oil and gas firms, helicopter manufacturers, operators and pilots.”

The witnesses due to give evidence include Luke Farajallah, managing director of Bond Offshore Helicopters, Duncan Trapp, vice president of CHC Helicopters, Mike Imlach, director of Bristow Helicopters, Steve Todd, national secretary of the RMT·union, Captain Colin Milne, chairman of BALPA’s Helicopter Affairs Committee, and Robert Paterson, the health and safety director of Oil & Gas UK.

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