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Helicopter wreckage reaches harbour

Wreckage of the Super Puma helicopter that crashed into the North Sea last week, killing four people, has been taken to an island harbour.

The Bibby Polaris salvage boat arrived at Lerwick Harbour in Shetland at around 4am on Thursday morning, the harbour's port control said.

Parts of the helicopter including the gearbox and rotor head have been recovered but the flight recorder has not been found.

John Henderson, managing director of marine engineering firm Ocean Kinetics, told STV News divers had located further parts of the aircraft.

"Ocean Kinetics have successfully located, lifted and passed the gearbox and rotor head of the helicopter to the Bibby Polaris who took the parts on board," he said. "We have also located both engines and parts of the cockpit, which will likely be recovered on Thursday. We are still searching for the flight recorder, which we believe is located at the Point of Garths Ness. There is a heavy swell running hampering diving operations."

It is hoped that the helicopter's black box data recorder will shed light on what caused the helicopter to come down.

Police Scotland said its investigations into the crash are continuing alongside those of staff from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Around 50 officers are carrying out inquiries in Shetland and Aberdeen, Detective Superintendent Malcolm Stewart said.

A review of the suspension of Super Puma flights which was introduced after Friday's crash is scheduled to reconvene on Thursday afternoon. The meeting of the industry's Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) was adjourned on Wednesday without reaching a decision on when the helicopters can return to the air. Representatives from operators, trade unions and regulators will gather in Aberdeen to discuss the issue again.

CHC has temporarily suspended all flights of the three types of Super Puma helicopter that it operates - the L, L2 and EC225. Fellow operators Bond Offshore Helicopters and Bristow also enforced a temporary suspension of all Super Puma flights except emergency rescue missions, in the wake of a recommendation by the HSSG.

The freeze on using the helicopter type is causing disruption to the movement of workers both on and off shore. The Super Puma is said to make up about half of the UK offshore industry's 75-strong helicopter fleet. Different aircraft models and alternative methods of transport, such as boats, are being used or looked at to transport people on and off North Sea platforms.


From Belfast Telegraph