TRIBUTES have been paid to the Scot who died after a helicopter crashed in Norway killing 13 people – as it emerged the aircraft had to return to base twice in the days before the tragedy after a warning light was triggered.
Helicopter operator CHC confirmed that the Super Puma had to turn back to Flesland Airport in Bergen last Tuesday when the pilot spotted the indication light.
After a part was replaced, a test flight the following day was also aborted and another component changed when the light reappeared.
The company said the aircraft completed six commercial flights with no indications of problems on Thursday, the day before the fatal accident.
The helicopter was carrying two crew and 11 passengers from the North Sea Gullfaks B oil field, around 74 miles off the Norwegian coast, when it crashed en route to Flesland.
Last night the family of the 41-year-old Scot, Iain Stuart, from Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire, who died in the crash said: “We as a family are devastated at the loss of Iain in Friday’s tragic helicopter crash in Norway.
“Iain was a loving husband and devoted father to his two children and as a family we are heartbroken. He was a caring son, brother, uncle and friend to many. We are appreciative of all the messages of support and kind thoughts.”
Television footage has shown what appears to be a helicopter rotor blade spiralling down minutes before the helicopter crashed.
All UK commercial passenger flights using the Airbus EC225LP – or Super Puma – model have been grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) following the accident.
A statement from CHC said: “It is correct that the helicopter returned to base on Tuesday 26 April.
“Thursday, the aircraft completed six commercial flights, all without any problems. None of the changed parts were physically connected to rotor or gearbox.”
The statement added: “Speculation about the cause of the accident is unhelpful and we must respect the feelings of the families.”
Mr Stuart, who worked for oilfield services company Halliburton, has been described as “always a gent” in tributes on social media.
Stephen Rennie, golf professional at Brechin Golf Club where he was a member, said: “The whole club is shocked and saddened to hear the devastating news about Iain.