CAA to review North Sea helicopter safety

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a review of helicopter operations in the North Sea following the fatal accident of Sumburgh.

The body will make recommendations aimed at improving the safety of offshore flying.

Four people died a month ago when a Super Puma helicopter crashed suddenly off Sumburgh.

Five accidents involving Super Pumas have taken place in the North Sea in the past four years – two of which tresulted in fatalities.

As part of the study an examination will be carried out of current operations, previous incidents and accidents and offshore helicopter flying in other countries.

Undertaken jointly with the Norwegian CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the study will pay particular attention to:

• Operators’ decision making and internal management;

• The protection of passengers and crew;

• Pilot training and performance;

• Helicopter airworthiness.

A panel of independent experts will act as advisers for the review.

The review will be led by the CAA’s head of Flight Operations, Captain Bob Jones who will work closely with Geir Hamre, head of helicopter safety for the Norwegian CAA.

The CAA says the review will also be subject to scrutiny by independent specialists, and will include a comparison study of UK Operations with those in Norway. Its findings are expected to be published in early 2014.

Mark Swan, director of the CAA’s Safety and Airspace Regulation group, said: “The recent accidents have understandably given rise to concerns, particularly with offshore workers who rely so heavily on these helicopter flights.

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that operations are as safe as possible. The review we are announcing today [Tuesday] will thoroughly examine the risks and hazards of operating in the North Sea and how these can be managed most effectively.

“We are extremely grateful to Geir Hamre from the Norwegian CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency for joining the review team. They bring additional expertise and experience which will be invaluable to the review.”

The announcement came after plans were announced to change the seating set-up in Super Pumas, following fears over the seating configuration which currently operates in the aircraft.


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