Oil industry workers to give evidence to helicopter crash committee

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Evidence will be taken today on offshore helicopter safety at Aberdeen University.

MPs from the House of Commons Transport Select Committee will hear from expert witnesses this afternoon as part of its inquiry.

The investigation follows the fatal helicopter crash off Sumburgh in August, which killed four offshore workers and sparked a major emergency exercise. Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, died when their Super Puma helicopter went down on approach to Sumburgh Airport on 23rd August.

Witnesses at today’s hearing will include industry bosses and union leaders.

Chairwoman of the committee, Louise Ellman MP, said: “Helicopter accidents in the offshore sector is a major cause for concern.

“After the events of last summer involving helicopter fatalities off the Shetland Isles, the committee decided to look closely at what might be done to curb the risks that offshore workers face from helicopter transport.

“We are coming to Aberdeen to hear from workers themselves, oil and gas firms, helicopter manufacturers, operators and pilots.”

It follows news helicopter operators will amend safety briefings which take place before take off.

On Friday the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) issued a special bulletin over briefings about emergency breathing systems (EBS) which are given to passengers.

It concluded: “The AAIB has approached the main helicopter operators flying in support of the UK oil and gas industry, whose passengers are equipped with a hybrid

EBS. Whilst operation of the hybrid EBS should be covered in initial and recurrent training, it is not explicitly described in the pre-flight safety briefing.

“The operators have undertaken to amend their pre-flight briefing material to include information that the hybrid system contains its own air supply which is discharged automatically, making the system usable even if the wearer has not taken a breath before becoming submerged.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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