Flights involving Super Puma helicopters are set to return to the air after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it did not believe last weekend’s tragic accident was caused by technical problems.
Eight days ago four people – Duncan Munro, Sarah Darnley, Gary McCrossan and George Allison – lost their lives when a Super Puma ditched into the sea just south of Sumburgh.
It was the fifth incident involving Super Puma helicopters in the North Sea in the past four years.
RMT transport union figurehead Bob Crow told national radio there was “no reason” to believe the crash was mechanical.
Mr Crow said the decision to start flying had to weigh up “the pressures on individuals who are stranded on rigs and want to get back, or who’ve been away from work for two to three weeks”.
Helicopter safety body the HSSG said on Friday that there were nearly 16,000 people offshore, and more than 250 had spent in excess of three weeks offshore.
A CAA spokesman said that, while it was right that Super Puma operations were suspended following the 23rd August incident, “based on all the information currently available, we do not believe that the accident was caused by an airworthiness or technical problem”.
After its experts discussed the matter with the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), the helicopter operators and European and Norwegian safety regulators, the CAA now believes the decision to resume flights “is appropriate”.
“We would not allow a return to service unless we were satisfied that it was safe to do so,” the CAA spokesman said. “We will review the position if any new evidence comes to light.”
The black box, containing voice and flight data recorder from the crashed helicopter, was recovered late on Thursday and is being analysed by investigators at AAIB’s Farnborough headquarters.