Helicopter Safety Steering Group meets to discuss latest North Sea ditching incident

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Making up the HSSG are helicopter operators, oil and gas operators and contractors, offshore trade unions, the pilots’ union BALPA, Oil & Gas UK and the regulators – the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The meeting involved sharing information from all three North Sea helicopter operators and an overview of the ongoing Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) enquiry.

CHC provided the group with background information to the incident. CHC, along with Bond Offshore and Bristow also outlined their current position with regards a suspension of Super Puma flights.

Representatives from the trade unions, RMT and Unite were also invited to provide their thoughts to the group.

Step Change in Safety team leader, Les Linklater, said: “This HSSG meeting was organised in order for the offshore aviation community, oil and gas industry representatives and the workforce to meet to share what we know about this latest ditching incident.

“Aviation is the most heavily regulated form of transport in the world and as a result it is one of the safest. The HSSG is guided by the technical expertise of regulators and helicopter operators and therefore fully supports their precautionary decision to suspend flights – despite not being required to by the regulators – until reassurance can be provided.

“The safety of our workforce is paramount and we need to be satisfied that those who travel to their place of work by helicopter, do so safely and return home again safely. 

 “This is a constantly evolving situation and we will be very closely monitoring the ongoing AAIB investigation and any output or recommendations from Eurocopter, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the CAA.

“The HSSG will continue to work to widely share throughout industry any learning from this incident, as well as continue our long-term work to improve helicopter safety.”

The group will reconvene as and when more information on the incident becomes available.

Information on the incident is being collated at a webpage dedicated to the G-CHCN ditching.