Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Osborne tribute to crash victims

George Osborne will sign a book of condolence for the workers who lost their lives in a helicopter crash

Chancellor George Osborne will offer his condolences to relatives of the North Sea helicopter crash victims in a speech in Scotland next week.

Mr Osborne will use a trip to the north east oil and gas industry hub Aberdeen to pay tribute to "brave" offshore professionals who carry out their jobs in "an inherently dangerous environment".

Three men and one woman were killed when a Super Puma helicopter carrying workers from an offshore vessel crashed into the sea as it approached Shetland last Friday. Fourteen people survived, including two crew.

Flights to and from platforms have resumed following a temporary suspension after experts said there was no information that suggested a technical problem was to blame.

On Tuesday, the Chancellor will sign a book of condolence for the workers who lost their lives and will use a speech to offer his sympathy to the families of Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire, Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray and 59-year-old Gary McCrossan, from Inverness.

He will praise the courage of those involved in the rescue operation and pledge UK Government support for the industry and ensuring the safety of workers in the aftermath of the crash, the second fatal North Sea helicopter incident within five years.

In April 2009 the same Super Puma model went down north-east of Peterhead on its return from a platform, killing all 14 passengers and two crew on board.

A fatal accident inquiry is expected to open in Aberdeen in January.

An investigation into last Friday's crash is under way but the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said that it does not believe it was caused by an airworthiness or technical problem. It is hoped that the recovery of the helicopter's black box voice and flight data recorder on Thursday will shed light on the circumstances of the accident. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said early indications show the flight approach of the Super Puma was normal until three miles from the airport runway.

Mr Osborne will also use his trip to Aberdeen to launch the UK Government's analysis of Scotland's macroeconomic and fiscal performance and is expected to highlight "huge benefits" to the Scottish economy of remaining a member of the United Kingdom. Scots will vote on whether they want independence in a referendum on September 18 next year.

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