Coastguard helicopter pilot suspended after crew pick up Orkney steaks
A pilot on the Shetland Coastguard helicopter has been suspended after the crew picked up steaks from a butcher in Orkney at the end of a training mission.
An investigation has begun into the incident by the operators of Sumburgh-based emergency service CHC Helicopter at the behest of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
According to the butcher, Thorfinn Craigie, the helicopter landed in a field near his premises in Stromness on Monday to collect £400-worth of premium meat.
It was, Mr Craigie told a national tabloid newspaper, the second time a crew has stopped off to buy his produce.
He said: “They have done it twice. They normally land about two miles away at Kirkwall Airport and they wanted us to meet them at the airfield. But I told them that since I own the land behind the butchery shed, they could land there.
“One of the crew said that would be great because they have to train to do drops in rough areas. So they did it last month and did it again on Monday. They love our meat and came back for more. It was all good cuts. Fillet steaks and roasting joints of silverside.”
A CHC Helicopter spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a pilot has been suspended pending the results of a formal investigation. We expect high standards of professionalism from all our employees and if we find these have not been met, we will take the appropriate action.
“While the aircraft was previously engaged in a training exercise, it was operating a non-revenue flight at the time of the incident in question.”
A CHC source insisted no public money had been wasted. “The aircraft had completed the training exercise and therefore all costs are met by CHC as they usually are during non-operational flying.”
In a statement the MCA said: “We are aware of an incident involving a Coastguard helicopter based at Shetland and have asked our contractor, CHC (Canadian Helicopters Corporation) to investigate as a matter of urgency. The MCA regards any misuse of these assets as completely unacceptable and await the outcome of this investigation.”