Service to mark anniversary of helicopter crash

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The wreckage of the Super Puma helicopter which crashed into the North Sea on its approach to Sumburgh Airport in August 2013. There were four fatalities. Photo: Peter Hutchison

The wreckage of the Super Puma helicopter which crashed into the North Sea on its approach to Sumburgh Airport in August 2013. Photo: Peter Hutchison

A dedication service will be held at Sumburgh Airport this weekend to mark the first anniversary of last year’s fatal helicopter crash.

Four people were killed when the Super Puma L2 plunged into the sea at Garths Ness on 23rd August 2013.

Emergency services and airport workers will attend a short service at the airport’s memorial site – dedicated to all those who lost their lives in aircraft incidents in Shetland over the past three decades – on Saturday. Some of the 14 passengers who survived the crash are also expected to attend.

Following the service a wreath will be placed in the sea at the accident site by airport fire service staff from the fast rescue boat.
The locally-based search and rescue helicopters will carry out a fly past as the wreath is laid.

Locals are also invited to attend the short service, which will take place at 4.45pm.

Airport memorial committee chairman, Nigel Flaws said: “As we approach the anniversary of the helicopter crash, we are extending an invitation to members of the local community who may wish to join us in paying their respects to those who lost their lives in this incident.”

The memorial site is positioned to the east of the main terminal building at Sumburgh Airport and is accessible from the car park, along the eastern shoreline.

Last year’s emergency was sparked when the CHC-operated Super Puma crashed into the sea less than a mile south west of Garths Ness. It prompted widespread concerns surrounding off-shore helicopter safety.

The four people who died were Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland;  Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin; Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness and George Allison, 57, from Winchester.

Meanwhile, a new “category A” emergency breathing system (EBS) was due to be rolled out today. The first groups of offshore workers to be equipped with the EBS were due to take off to offshore installations early this morning.
The system was developed  in response to a government inquiry and report into helicopter safety following last year’s crash.

It was approved in July, and is expected to become a mandatory piece of safety equipment for all personnel travelling offshore from the UK from mid-September.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor is a reporter at The Shetland Times

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