24 August 2013, News Wires – Four people are confirmed dead after a Total-chartered helicopter crashed into the North Sea on Friday evening.
The dead include three men and one woman with three of the bodies so far retrieved and work under way to recover the fourth.
Fourteen others survived after the CHC Helicopter Super Puma L2 plunged into the sea just two miles west of Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands at around 6:30pm local time on Friday.
The helicopter was on hire from French supermajor Total and had left Aberdeen for two rigs before making a return for Sumburgh where it was preparing to land.
Canadian helicopter owner CHC has now temporarily suspended all flights by its Super Puma L2 model and has also suspended all of its UK flights on Saturday.
Police Scotland has named the four victims as Duncan Munro (46) from Bishop Auckland, Sarah Darnley (45) from Elgin, Gary McCrossan (59) from Inverness and George Allison (57) from Winchester.
One of the dead is still believed to be trapped inside the wreckage of the helicopter which has been recovered and secured by authorites.
There were 16 oil workers and two crew on the helicopter when it lost contact with air traffic control and plummeted to the sea.
An updated statement from CHC read: “We do not know the cause of the incident. A full investigation will be carried out in conjunction with the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).”
At a joint press conference in the UK on Saturday, Mark Abbey, CHC’s regional director for western North Sea, said: “CHC will not enter into any speculation as to what caused the incident but rest assured a full investigation will be carried out in which we will co-operate fully with all the regulatory bodies and share any learnings with the industry.”
A team of AAIB Investigators is being deploying to Aberdeen to conduct preliminary inquiries to establish the facts surrounding the accident.
Police Scotland’s updated statement on Saturday morning read: “Fourteen people were taken to the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick for treatment, including the two members of crew. Five were discharged and nine detained overnight either for observation or suffering from exposure.”
One of the rigs which the helicopter is understood to have served on Friday is Dolphin Drilling’s Borgsten Dolphin. The semi-submersible is understood to be working on the Dunbar field for Total, which has the unit on a long-term contract until the middle of 2016.
Total said only one of the passengers was an employee of the company with the other 15 representing 12 seperate contractor organisations.
Malcolm Webb, chief executive of industry representative body Oil & Gas UK, wrote in a statement late on Friday: “All offshore helicopter pilots undergo extensive training to prepare them for emergency situations and all passengers undergo regular helicopter evacuation training. This incident serves to emphasise the critical importance of such preparation.
“Helicopter safety remains a focus for the oil and gas industry, with the Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) now an established part of the Step Change in Safety organisation.
“Oil & Gas UK awaits more information on this incident and, through the HSSG, will ensure any learning from this is shared across the industry.”