Lawyers Say Super Puma Investigations Must Improve Flight Safety

AAIB Initial Report Does Not Identify Any Technical Failures That Could Have Contributed To The Recent Helicopter Crash Near Shetland


By Dave Grimshaw

Lawyers say the ongoing investigations into the recent Shetland Super Puma crash must quickly identify the exact cause to help improve flight safety as soon as possible.

Four people died when the Super Puma AS332 L2 went down close to shore on a flight to Sumburgh from the Borgsten Dolphin rig with 18 people onboard.

A report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has revealed that there is no evidence so far of a “causal technical failure” on the aircraft involved in the crash.

This was the fifth serious incident involving Super Puma helicopters since February 2009.

Now leading aviation lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who are representing 12 oil rig workers injured in the previous Super Puma ditching in October 2012, say that it is imperative that the cause of the latest crash is discovered so that lessons can be learnt from the tragedy.

Jim Morris, a former RAF pilot and partner in the aviation law team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This was a terrible accident in which four people sadly lost their lives. Unfortunately this is not a totally isolated incident as there have been a series of Super Puma crashes into the North Sea since 2009.

“The very prompt publication of the first Special Bulletin by the AAIB is commendable but it gives no indication of what actually caused this tragedy, so it is imperative that the operator, manufacturer and the AAIB work quickly to determine and publish the chain of events that lead to this accident.

“Only then can lessons be learnt and any necessary changes implements to improve flight safety and ensure that other families do not suffer such heartache because of similar accidents in future.”

The Transport Select Committee has also now confirmed that MPs will investigate the incident as well as other North Sea helicopter crashes – a move which Irwin Mitchell has welcomed.

Morris added: “This is a welcome sign that the alarming helicopter accident statistics concerning the workforce in the oil and gas industry, which currently rely on these helicopters to get to and from the rigs, have been recognised and are now being actioned by the Transport Select Committee.

“We hope that the Select Committee’s examination will help to ensure that the flight safety for oil rig workforce is dramatically improved. We will aim to work with the Committee to share our own knowledge from our involvement in previous Eurocopter crashes and the devastating impact that such incidents have on the victims, families and the whole oil rig workforce.”

Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, lost their lives in the incident.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Air Accident Claims