Last North Sea helicopter crash victim is brought ashore

The fourth victim of the North Sea helicopter crash that claimed the life of County Durham man Duncan Munro has been brought ashore

Dive Vessel Bibby Polaris, that was involved in the salvage of the helicopter that crashed into the North Sea
Dive Vessel Bibby Polaris, that was involved in the salvage of the helicopter that crashed into the North Sea

The fourth victim of the North Sea helicopter crash that claimed the life of County Durham man Duncan Munro has been brought ashore.

But investigators say they are yet to find the black box from the Super Puma that plunged into the waters off Shetland on Friday.

Specialist teams of salvage experts are scouring the area around the crash site, on the approach to the island’s Sumburgh airport, using sonar to try and locate the recorder, which could shed light on why the aircraft dropped from the sky.

Meanwhile, boats are being chartered – as the Super Puma fleet has been grounded – to bring North East oil rig workers home.

Duncan Trapp, vice president for safety and quality at CHC Helicopter, said the crash would be “painstakingly investigated” to find out what went wrong.

“The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will be reviewing information, including debriefs with pilots and passengers, air traffic records, technical data and records, and the aircraft and its onboard systems,” he said.

“We are fully supporting the early stages of the investigation into the incident and will continue to give our full co-operation to this process.”

CHC have temporarily suspended all flights of the three types of Super Puma helicopter that it operates – the L, L2 and EC225.

Fellow operators Bond Offshore Helicopters and Bristow also enforced a temporary hold on all Super Puma flights except emergency rescue missions.

It follows a recommendation by the offshore industry’s Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG), which urged the precautionary measure until there is “sufficient factual information” to resume flights.

Three of the bodies of the victims – Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, George Allison, 57, from Winchester in Hampshire, Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin in Moray, and 59-year-old Gary McCrossan, from Inverness – arrived in Aberdeen by ferry on Monday morning, and the fourth reached the city, also by ferry yesterday. A search for the aircraft’s black box data recorder, which was located in the helicopter’s tail section, is being carried out and, once traced, will be transported to the headquarters of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch at Farnborough for examination.

It is hoped information on the flight recorder will help establish what caused the crash.

There have been five North Sea incidents involving Super Pumas since 2009.

In April that year, an AS332 L2, operated by Bond, went down north east of Peterhead on its return from a BP platform, killing all 14 passengers and two crew.

The other three ditchings involved the EC225 model, which saw flights temporarily suspended.

CHC returned the model to commercial service only earlier this month.

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