Oil & Gas UK backs move to boost helicopter flights safety after Sumburgh crash report

Oil & Gas UK, a representative body for the UK’s oil and gas industry, has responded to the AAIB’s report into the Sumburgh offshore helicopter accident from 2013 by supporting the move to enhance the safety of offshore helicopter flights.

To remind, in August 2013, an AS332 L2 Super Puma helicopter with sixteen passengers and two crew on board crashed in the UK North Sea. Four of the passengers did not survive.

According to the findings published on Tuesday by AAIB, upon being cleared to land to Sumbrugh airport, the airspeed of the helicopter started to drop steadily unobserved by either the pilot or co-pilot, allowing the helicopter to enter a critically low energy state, from which recovery was not possible, and the helicopter crashed in the water.

Mick Borwell, Health & Safety Director, Oil & Gas UK, said: “Following publication of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch report into the Sumburgh tragedy we will take time to carefully examine its findings. Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those not with us today.

“There are many recommendations in this report aimed at improving both flight operations and post-crash survivability. Oil & Gas UK supports the move to further enhance the safety of offshore helicopter flights.

A number of initiatives have already been implemented by industry following the publication of the Civil Aviation Authority CAP1145 report containing actions and recommendations for helicopter safety.

“Steps taken to improve survivability include introducing seat allocation in helicopters so they are compatible with passenger size and equipping passengers with improved emergency breathing equipment in the unlikely event there is an incident.

“Everyone has the right to get to and from their workplace safely and we must respond to the learnings in this report.  Industry will continue to work with the helicopter operators, regulators and the workforce to make offshore operations as safe as they can be.”