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Super Puma flights suspended after North Sea ditching

23 October 2012

CHC, Bristow and Bond have suspended flights involving Super Puma helicopters after the October 22 ditching of the same type of aircraft south of the Shetland Islands. A Super Puma EC 225, operated by CHC, carried out a controlled landing off Fair Isle. All 19 people on board evacuated into life rafts and were rescued safely.

A CHC EC 225 Super Puma of the same type that ditched
A CHC EC 225 Super Puma of the same type that ditched

The two pilots and 17 oilworkers on board the helicopter were airlifted to safety following a rescue operation involving three lifeboats, three search and rescue helicopters and a fast rescue craft from an oil tanker in the icy seas, 32 miles south of Shetland.

It had been heading to the West Phoenix drilling rig, south west of Shetland. 

All three of the major North Sea helicopter operators have now suspended Super Puma operations while an investigation is carried out by CHC, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the manufacturer of the Super Puma, Eurocopter, which is sending a specialist team to Aberdeen.

Meanwhile the Coastguard emergency tug Herakles remains on standby beside the ditched but still floating helicopter 20 miles west of Fair Isle, while the oil supply vessel Olympic Zeus heads for the scene to lift the aircraft on board. 

In May, all 14 people on board a Super Puma EC 225 operated by Bond were rescued when their helicopter came down around 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen during a flight to an offshore rig.

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