Oil workers still don't trust revamped helicopter after fatal crash

MSPs will this week warn that offshore workers still have to be convinced of the safety of the Super Puma helicopter following a crash that claimed the lives of 13 people.

Manufacturer Airbus has made changes to the Super Puma since the accident that killed 13 last year
Manufacturer Airbus has made changes to the Super Puma since the accident that killed 13 last year

A Holyrood debate will highlight the fears of workers claiming that many would refuse to step aboard the aircraft, even though it has now been cleared to fly by the UK civil aviation authorities.

The helicopters were regarded as the workhorse of the oil industry until they were grounded following the crash in Norway in April last year. Among the 13 killed was Iain Stuart, an oil worker from Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire.

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Since then the aircraft has undergone 2,000 hours of testing and 370 experts have contributed to safety improvements.

With the aircraft expected to come back to work shortly, a motion tabled by Lewis MacDonald, pictured, a Labour MSP for north-east Scotland, notes a survey of offshore workers carried out by the Super Puma manufacturer Airbus.

The survey found that 62 per cent of respondents said they would be unlikely to fly in the helicopter if given the choice and that 4 per cent were unaware of work done to improve the safety since the crash in 2016.

Unite the Union has launched a petition opposing the reintroduction of the helicopters which has been signed by thousands of offshore workers in the north-east.

Last night MacDonald said: “There are workers who would simply not get on board a Super Puma. Airbus have clearly done a lot of work on safety and have made some of that public. I think the workforce need more reassurance about what that actually means. What I will call for is full transparency and full engagement with the workforce both by Airbus and the operators and the customers, the oil companies.”

An Airbus spokesman said: “Airbus Helicopters welcomes any open and informed discussion on the safety of offshore helicopters and this is clearly a topic of great importance to MSPs. While global and national independent authorities have lifted all H225 flight restrictions based on new safety measures, Airbus Helicopters understands the importance of restoring confidence in the aircraft ahead of any return to service. We are now in the process of informing the workforce and wider community of the updates.”