Super Puma fatal accident inquiry: Decision not to replace gearbox

The Super Puma before it crashed The Bond Super Puma helicopter crashed in 2009

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An engineer has told a fatal accident inquiry a decision was taken not to replace a helicopter gearbox after a metal chip was detected, following discussions with the manufacturer.

Sixteen men died when the Bond helicopter came down in April 2009.

Bond engineer John Crowther was at home when he received a call to say the gearbox was about to be changed.

But after discussions with the manufacturer, Eurocopter, the work was cancelled.

Additional inspections were instead ordered on the helicopter to check for further chips but none were found.

A week later the Super Puma crashed in the North Sea off Peterhead.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch report blamed a catastrophic gearbox failure for the crash, which happened 12 miles off Peterhead.

The two crew who died were Capt Paul Burnham, 31, of Methlick, Aberdeenshire, and co-pilot Richard Menzies, 24, of Droitwich Spa, who worked for Bond Offshore Helicopters.

The KCA Deutag employees killed were Brian Barkley, 30, of Aberdeen; Vernon Elrick, 41, of Aberdeen; Leslie Taylor, 41, of Kintore, Aberdeenshire; Nairn Ferrier, 40, of Dundee; Gareth Hughes, 53, of Angus; David Rae, 63, of Dumfries; Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld; James John Edwards, 33, of Liverpool; Nolan Goble, 34, of Norwich, and Mihails Zuravskis, 39, of Latvia.

The other victims were James Costello, 24, of Aberdeen, who was contracted to Production Services Network (PSN); Alex Dallas, 62, of Aberdeen, who worked for Sparrows Offshore Services; Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, who worked for Weatherford UK; and Stuart Wood, 27, of Aberdeen, who worked for Expro North Sea Ltd.

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