Calls for helicopter safety probe - decade after Super Puma tragedy

Offshore union RMT is repeating its call for a full public inquiry into North Sea helicopter safety a decade after the Super Puma tragedy.

The H225LP and AS332 L2 helicopters were banned from flying in the UK after a fatal crash off Norway which killed 13 people.
The H225LP and AS332 L2 helicopters were banned from flying in the UK after a fatal crash off Norway which killed 13 people.

Fourteen oil workers and two crew died when a Bond Super Puma plunged into the water off the Aberdeenshire coast on 1 April, 2009.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch probe into the crash found that the aircraft suffered a “catastrophic failure” of its main rotor gearbox, while a fatal accident inquiry in 2014 found that the tragedy might have been avoided.

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RMT is calling for lasting changes to regulatory standards to make the industry safer in the wake of a series of tragedies in recent years.

Eleven passengers and two crew members were killed when a Super Puma 225 aircraft came down near the city of Bergen, Norway, in April 2016 while in August 2013 a Super Puma L2 carrying oil rig workers ditched in the North Sea leaving four people dead.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “On the tenth anniversary of the Super Puma disaster off Peterhead that cost 16 workers their lives our thoughts are with the families, colleagues and friends affected by the tragedy.

“Offshore workers remain angry that despite a five-year Fatal Accident Inquiry process we still await justice, meaningful changes and the public inquiry into helicopter safety in the North Sea that has long been our central demand.

“Meanwhile confidence in the safety of offshore helicopter transport has declined as we continue to see commercial pressures on standards in a culture of cost-cutting.

“On this grim anniversary for the industry the union pledges to step up the fight for North Sea helicopter safety, a public inquiry and lasting changes to regulatory standards that are the best way to restore offshore workers’ confidence.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We have given this matter careful and serious consideration, and the CAA has already undertaken a comprehensive review into this matter. We found that a public enquiry would not achieve anything beyond the assurances already provided by this review, which culminated in number of significant changes to increase the safety standards of offshore helicopter flights.”

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said: “This anniversary serves as a stark reminder that we can never be complacent about ensuring safe operations in our industry.”