Super Puma crash: UK team to help inquiry in Norway

A vessel lifts up part of the crashed helicopter Image copyright EPA
Image caption A vessel lifts up part of the crashed helicopter

UK air accident investigators are heading to Norway to help with an inquiry into a helicopter crash, thought to have killed 13.

A team from the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch is heading to the city of Bergen, near the crash site.

It has investigated a number of crashes involving helicopters operating to and from offshore oil and gas fields in recent years.

One of the victims is understood to be from Scotland.

Eleven people are known to have died and two more are presumed dead after the Airbus EC225LP helicopter - or Super Puma - crashed on Friday.

Commercial Super Puma flights in the UK have been grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) following the crash.

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Media captionEmergency services try to reach the site of the crash

The helicopter was flying from the Gullfaks oil field to Bergen, a centre for the North Sea oil and gas industry, when it crashed near the small island of Turoey.

A major rescue operation was launched but ended within hours of the crash. In addition to the Briton, 11 Norwegians and an Italian were on the flight.

In 2012, EC225 Super Puma helicopters crashed in two incidents in Scotland - one off Aberdeen and another off Shetland - that were both blamed on gearbox problems.

In both cases, all passengers and crew were rescued. EC225s in the UK were grounded following the crashes but given the go-ahead to resume flying in August 2013.

However that model was again grounded, along with several others, later that same month after a Super Puma (AS332 L2) crashed off Shetland, killing four people.

On Friday, the CAA announced a restriction on all EC225 commercial passenger flights, mirroring action taken by its Norwegian counterpart.

The restriction does not apply to search and rescue flights, it said.

BP and Statoil have also suspended the use of the aircraft model, so it is unable to carry oil and gas workers.

Image copyright Mihai Crisan
Image caption The actual helicopter which crashed

Super Pumas are responsible for many of the 140,000 helicopter passenger flights in the UK each year.

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