Aug 26 2013
Investigators will try to establish what caused a helicopter to plunge into the North Sea, killing four oil workers, after the wreckage was recovered from the water.
The Super Puma was carrying 16 passengers and two crew from the Borgsten Dolphin platform when it crashed into the sea off Shetland on Friday evening, killing three men and one woman. It is not yet known what caused the CHC-operated helicopter to ditch as it approached Sumburgh airport on the southern tip of the main island.
Rescuers recovered three bodies in the aftermath of the incident and the fourth was removed from the wreckage yesterday. Two of the 14 survivors remain in hospital.
Tributes have been paid to the victims, named as Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham; George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire; Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin in the Highlands; and 59-year-old Gary McCrossan, from Inverness.
Misty conditions on Sunday night hampered efforts to salvage the wreckage and transport it back to shore for examination by a team from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
It is understood that the remains of the Super Puma AS332 L2 were eventually lifted on to the deck of the vessel Bibby Polaris which was due to travel to a mainland port. It is hoped information on the helicopter's black box recorder will help establish the cause of the crash.
Shetland coastguard manager John Webster told the Press Association: "The heavy-lift ship is out at the moment trying to recover what wreckage it can from the sea. After that the AAIB will decide where to take it."
All Super Puma flights to and from UK offshore installations have been suspended, prompting a meeting of oil and gas industry chiefs today to discuss the impact on platform workers. CHC has grounded the model involved in the crash and suspended all UK flights of three other Super Puma types. Fellow operators Bond Offshore Helicopters and Bristow have also enforced a temporary suspension of all Super Puma flights except emergency rescue missions.
It follows a recommendation by the offshore industry's Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) which urged the precautionary measure until there is "sufficient factual information" to resume flights. The HSSG is made up of representatives from oil and gas firms, contractors, helicopter operators, offshore unions, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The group will meet again on Wednesday to review the suspension unless it becomes aware of any "significant" information before then. Industry body Oil & Gas UK has arranged a meeting of operators and major contractors in Aberdeen on Monday to discuss ways of minimising the impact of the grounding of flights on the offshore workforce.