Shetland Super Puma Helicopter Tragedy Raises 'Significant Safety Concerns'

Lawyers Call For A Thorough Investigation Into The Latest Fatal Super Puma Crash

25.08.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

Aviation law experts expressed significant concerns today after the latest in a series of helicopter crashes in the North Sea claimed the lives of four passengers. The latest incident occurred off the coast of Shetland last Friday evening (August 23rd).
 
The Eurocopter Super Puma AS332 L2 helicopter involved, operated by CHC, was carrying passengers from the Borgsten Dolphin oil rig when it ditched in the North Sea two miles west of Sumburgh Airport.
 
Four passengers were killed in the incident, while 14 passengers and crew were rescued and taken to Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick for treatment. Investigations are now underway into the cause of the crash, with some eyewitnesses suggesting a loss of power on the aircraft.
 
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Aviation Law team represent injured victims as well as the families of many of those killed in aviation accidents around the world.
 
The leading legal team already represents 12 of the passengers injured during the ditching in the North Sea of another Super Puma helicopter as recently as October 2012. Legal action is being pursued by those passengers against both CHC and Eurocopter following the incident.

The law firm is also pursuing legal proceedings against Eurocopter in France following a fatal AS350 helicopter crash in France in 2007 and the firm also represents victims who suffered serious injuries in the fatal helicopter crash in Vauxhall, London, in January this year.
 
Jim Morris, a former RAF pilot and Partner in Irwin Mitchell’s Aviation Law team, said today: "News of this latest tragedy is clearly shocking and also raises significant safety concerns. Since February 2009, there now have been five serious accidents in the North Sea involving Eurocopter Super Puma helicopters, with twenty passengers and crew losing their lives.

"While it remains far too early to speculate on the cause of this latest terrible event, the eyewitness accounts of a sudden loss of power may point to a mechanical issue. The previous two accidents in May and October of last year, that caused the Super Pumas to ditch in the North Sea, were both due to problems with the gearbox lubrication system.

"As well as continuing to represent passengers injured in the October incident, we will now be carefully looking into the cause or causes of this latest crash and in particular whether there are any similarities between the two incidents and any other incidents involving Super Puma helicopters .

"Specialist investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are now working to discover the cause or causes of this incident. They will carefully analyse all of the available evidence to determine whether any technical or mechanical issues played a part, as well as examining the actions of the crew and the helicopter operator, CHC.
 
“We welcome the further grounding of Super Puma helicopters pending the outcome of the AAIB's investigation. In the circumstances this is a sensible precaution. This is the third time that Super Puma helicopters have been grounded in less than twelve months.

"Every effort must now be made to thoroughly investigate the cause of this tragic incident, the resulting injuries to the survivors and the tragic loss of life. All of those affected will want to understand exactly what went wrong and will want to know that any possible lessons are learned for the future. There is also a need to reassure those who work off-shore, in the North Sea and elsewhere, that they are safe when using helicopter transport.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those killed and with those who have been injured in this terrible latest incident.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in air accident claims.