Scotland business

Shetland helicopter crash: Government says lessons will be learned

The Scottish government said lessons would be learned from last month's Super Puma helicopter crash off Shetland, in which four people died.

SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney told MSPs he recognised that concerns over North Sea helicopter safety were in a heightened state.

Mr Swinney paid tribute to the victims of the crash as well as those who were involved in the rescue operation.

The investigation into what happened is continuing.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the crash was not caused by airworthiness or technical problems, based on current information.

Super Puma AS332 L2 went down close to shore on a flight to Sumburgh from the Borgsten Dolphin rig on 23 August.

It was the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.

Duncan Munro, from Bishop Auckland, Sarah Darnley, from Elgin, Gary McCrossan, from Inverness, and George Allison, from Winchester, lost their lives in the incident.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, 12 days after the accident, Mr Swinney said: "I know our country and the entire chamber join me in expressing our deepest sympathy and condolences to their families, friends, colleagues and loved ones at this difficult time."

He added: "In the last 35 years, more than 60 million passengers have been carried to and from the platforms. Tens of thousands of flights take place every year.

"It is the industry and the government's duty to work with the trade unions and the offshore community to learn lessons from this latest accident and to take every possible step to ensure that safety is enhanced and remains the first priority for those who service the oil and gas industry in the North Sea."

Mr Swinney said the police and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigation into what happened was now "well under way", but no conclusive findings as to the cause have so far been released.

He said a decision on whether a further inquiry was needed would be taken after that had happened.

Mr Swinney added: "The AAIB are aware of the urgency in determining the cause of the accident, in particular, in relation to reassuring the men and women who are asked to fly today, tomorrow and next week. They must have confidence that the helicopters are safe.

"It is entirely understandable that concerns about helicopter safety have been heightened because of the close proximity of incidents in the North Sea - this is the fifth incident since 2009 and the second involving fatalities."

Offshore helicopter company Bristow has resumed Super Puma flights carrying passengers to oil and gas installations.

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