Super Puma wreckage delivered to harbour

29 August 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
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The Super Puma AS332 L2 manufactured by Eurocopter has been involved in 5 incidents in the North Sea since 2009

The Super Puma AS332 L2 manufactured by Eurocopter has been involved in 5 incidents in the North Sea since 2009 [Credit: Bryan Burke]

Parts of the wreckage of the Super Puma helicopter that crashed last week into the North Sea have been recovered and delivered to Lerwick Harbour in Shetland.

The rescue teams managed to find the aircraft’s rotor and gearbox but are still searching for the black box recorders, believed to shed some light on the causes of the accident that killed four people last Friday.

"We have also located both engines and parts of the cockpit, which will likely be recovered on Thursday,” said John Henderson, managing director of marine engineering firm Ocean Kinetics who is in charge of the operations.

"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," he said.

The accident is being investigated by the Police Scotland together with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

After the crash, the Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) recommended the operators of the Super Puma aircraft to suspend flights – a decision that will be reviewed today.

CHC, the operator of the crashed helicopter has grounded all three types of Super Puma owned by the company - 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.

However, the aircraft’s grounding is complicating the transport of workers from land to offshore platforms, as Super Pumas 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 workers on and off North Sea platforms.

Union officials have said the suspension of Super Pumas should stay in place until the cause of the crash is known. Friday's crash was already the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.

Confidence in the aircraft type had been ''shattered'' and there was ''anger and fear'' among the workforce, Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) also called for safety improvements at a rally in Aberdeen. General secretary Bob Crow said lessons must be learned from the crash.

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