EC225 Helicopter’s North Sea Descent ‘Needs Full Investigation’

Ditching Raises Questions Over Aviation Safety

14.05.2012


Aviation law experts at Irwin Mitchell are demanding answers after a Eurocopter EC225 helicopter was forced to ditch in the North Sea after reported problems related to oil pressure.

All 16 people on board the aircraft, operated by Bond Offshore, were recovered on liferafts following the incident around 25 miles off the east coast of Aberdeen.

The helicopter was travelling from Aberdeen to the Maersk Resilient rig when a low oil pressure warning light was activated. A spokesman for Bond Offshore has emphasised to the media that the subsequent descent was controlled and the aircraft did not crash.

Both the RNLI and coastguard co-ordinated the rescue of the 14 passengers and two crew, while Bond have suspended flights involving the EC225 until further notice.

The incident is not the first of its kind to involve a Bond-operated helicopter.  A Eurocopter EC225LP helicopter crashed in the North Sea on 18 February 2009, in which all 18 aboard escaped and were rescued and in April 2009 16 people died when a Eurocopter AS332L2 suffered a catastrophic gearbox failure and crashed off the coast of Peterhead.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Aviation Law team act for a number of people seriously injured in air accidents in the UK and abroad, including victims of helicopter-related incidents. Jim Morris, former RAF pilot and Partner in the team, said the descent raised a number of serious questions.

He outlined: “The EC225 is a well-known aircraft regularly used in this type of rig-related operation, so it is vital that the operator and authorities work quickly to determine what happened in this incident and how it could be avoided again in the future.

“News of the low oil pressure warning is a particular concern – the cause will have to be identified quickly to rule out any technical problems that could affect the safety of other EC225 helicopters.

“While it remains to be seen how passengers on board the flight have been affected by the incident, we have seen first-hand the physical and psychological trauma that such problems can have on those involved in an emergency ditching and evacuation procedure.

“Ultimately, the oil rig industry and EC225 operators will be keen to ensure that lessons can be learned to prevent further issues like this in the future.”