North Sea Super Puma crash victims ‘closer’ to compensation

LAWYERS fighting on behalf of the survivors of a fatal North Sea helicopter crash claim they are a step closer to securing significant pay-outs two years on.
A  CHC Scotia Ltd landing at Sumburgh Airport. Picture: Alex HewittA  CHC Scotia Ltd landing at Sumburgh Airport. Picture: Alex Hewitt
A CHC Scotia Ltd landing at Sumburgh Airport. Picture: Alex Hewitt

Aberdeen-based solicitors Digby Brown are confident talks with operator CHC Helicopters will be held soon to ensure that “justice is done”.

The development comes just days after the second anniversary of the crash, which claimed four lives.

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Three men and a woman died when the Super Puma AS332-L2 aircraft plunged into the water off the coast of Shetland in August 2013.

Nine of the survivors from the helicopter which went down short of the runway at Sumburgh Airport are now each taking legal action against the aircraft operator claiming their lives have been destroyed by the crash.

Law firm Digby Brown, which is acting on behalf of the group, said the claims are being raised for “emotional, physical and financial losses” suffered.

Lisa Gregory, a partner at the firm, said they were seeking significant damages - believed to be around five million pounds collectively.

She said: “We have to remember they were just travelling home from work when their lives were torn apart. They have lost their livelihoods.

“We might expect that they would be compensated but there is a disconnect between Scots Law and International Legal Conventions which govern these cases which means they are not automatically compensated.

“We hope there will be talks soon which will let us get our clients the compensation they deserve and ensure that justice is done.”

The aircraft was on its approach to Sumburgh Airport with 16 passengers and two crew on board when tragedy struck on August 23, 2013.

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The chopper had collected workers from the Dunbar platform, the Borgsten Dolphin rig and the Alwyn North platform before heading to refuel.

However it lost speed suddenly and ditched into the sea around 1.5 nautical miles from the runway

Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, George Allison, 57, from Winchester and Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, all died in the accident.

One of the survivors said he found the second anniversary of the helicopter crash harder to deal with than the first.

Martin Tosh, 36, spent Sunday on his own at home in Kintore, Aberdeenshire.

He described being left alone with his memories of the crash as “torture”.

Aircraft operator CHC Helicopter said it had paid out more than 500,000 pounds in interim insurance payments to those affected by the crash.

A spokesman for the helicopter firm added: “We deeply regret the Sumburgh accident and our sympathies remain with the families and loves ones of those affected.

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“We are committed to resolving passenger issues as quickly as possible.”

Rescuers found the stricken Super Puma upside down in the water with the passengers and crew scattered around it in the icy waters.

They were plucked to safety by emergency services.

The incident was the fifth helicopter ditching in the North Sea in five years.

Earlier this year the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland launched a legal challenge at the Court of Session to speed up an investigation into the tragedy.

But his bid to have the cockpit data recorder released early from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch was stalled by the The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA).

An appeal hearing has been set for December.