Nineteen safe after helicopter ditches west of Fair Isle

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An inquiry will be carried out after a CHC helicopter with 17 passengers and two crew members onboard was forced to ditch in the Atlantic Ocean west of Fair Isle yesterday afternoon.

The aircraft, a Super Puma EC225 helicopter, made a controlled ditching 24 miles south-west of Sumburgh shortly after 3pm. It was on its way from Aberdeen Airport to the West Phoenix drilling rig west of Shetland.

The helicopter landed in the water about half a mile away from the tanker Nord Nightingale, which was on her way to Belfast. A fast rescue boat was launched from the tanker and picked up all 19 people from their liferaft.

The Sumburgh-based coastguard helicopter was involved in a medivac to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary when the call came in so a Bond helicopter from Sumburgh Airport headed to the scene, along with the Stornoway-based coastguard rescue helicopter and a helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth. The Lerwick, Aith and Kirkwall lifeboats were also launched.

The 19 people were airlifted from the tanker and flown to either Sumburgh or mainland airports. Some were put up in Sumburgh Hotel overnight and then flown south this morning. They subsequently praised the Super Puma pilots for their prompt and efficient action in ditching the aircraft safely.

CHC’s aircraft of a similar model have now been grounded and an investigation will be carried out by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB). An inquiry is still being carried out after a Super Puma EC225 ditched in the North Sea in May this year.

Oil & Gas UK health and safety policy manager Bob Lauder said: “Oil & Gas UK is pleased to hear that all 19 people onboard this helicopter have been successfully rescued.

“This is testament to the skill of the pilots, as well as the comprehensive survival training which all offshore workers must undergo to prepare them for this type of situation.

“We now await more information on the cause of this incident.”


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