Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Third firm suspends helicopter use

Nineteen people are safe after the helicopter they were on ditched in the North Sea 14 miles west of Fair Isle between Orkney and Shetland
Nineteen people are safe after the helicopter they were on ditched in the North Sea 14 miles west of Fair Isle between Orkney and Shetland

A third offshore helicopter operator has suspended its use of the aircraft which ditched in the North Sea with 19 people on board.

The oil workers and crew were safely rescued when the pilot of the EC225 Super Puma was forced to land off Shetland on Monday afternoon.

Operator CHC suspended its use of the model and was followed by the firm Bristow Helicopters. Bond Offshore Helicopters has now said it has halted flights by the aircraft.

A spokeswoman said: "Due to ongoing investigations into the incident, Bond Offshore Helicopters have taken the decision to delay a return to operations of the AS332L2 and EC225 Super Puma helicopters until more detailed information is available.

"We are continuing to work closely with other operators, and the aircraft manufacturer Eurocopter, whilst also updating our customers on a regular basis."

The helicopter was carrying an oil crew from Aberdeen to a rig 86 miles north west of Shetland when it ditched at around 3.30pm on Monday.

The 17 passengers and two crew were taken from their liferaft by a rescue craft launched from the Nord Nightingale vessel, which was close to the scene. They were taken back to the tanker and flown by RAF and Bond rescue helicopters to Kirkwall in Orkney. No-one was injured. The passengers and crew were expected to fly into Aberdeen on Tuesday.

A spokesman for CHC said the 19 passengers and crew involved in the ditching have returned to Aberdeen.

"We are delighted that everyone is back in Aberdeen and that no one was injured. Following a detailed debrief with the crew and technical experts, CHC is continuing to delay all scheduled commercial flights on Super Puma EC225 aircraft.

"An investigation team from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, with CHC's full participation, has begun an inquiry into the cause of the incident. Recovery of the EC225 aircraft is under way via tug boat."

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