Updated: Unions rebuff attempts to reintroduce Super Pumas to North Sea

A union representing North Sea workers has rebuffed attempts to reintroduce a controversial offshore helicopter until a root cause of a fatal accident is identified.

Unite the Union has set up a petition to “demand” a stop to all commercial flights of the Superpuma H225LP and AS332 L2 helicopters.

The union claims this is the only way to “provide reassurance to offshore workers that their safety is paramount”.

UK flight safety watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently announced that Super Pumas would be allowed to fly in the North Sea following a lengthy grounding which came in the wake of a tragic accident.

A total of 13 men, including Iain Stuart of Laurencekirk, died when one of the aircraft crashed off the Norwegian coast last April.

Unite claims the CAA’s lifting of the ban, before a root cause of the accident has been traced, “jeopardises” the safety of North Sea workers.

Unite regional officer, Tommy Campbell said: “Our members are telling us that they have no confidence in the safety of these airframes and neither do their families.

“Offshore workers deserve to return back home safe to loved ones from working in the North Sea.”

“We need not only the usual assurances from the Oil and Gas UK operators, we need them to demonstrate that safety comes first and that they will not support the reintroduction of the Superpuma H225LP and AS332 L2 helicopters.

“Until a full investigation is complete and the results are known there should be no ‘business as usual’ return to commercial operations in the UKCS involving these airframes.”

Unite claims that a “significant” number of offshore workers and union members have expressed the view that the root cause of the gearbox problem that caused the crash in April 2016 remains unknown.

And they say that as long as this remains the case they want the airframes should remain grounded.

The petition states: “We,the undersigned call on all stakeholders to put the lives of offshore oil and gas workers and crew before any vested interests and support the non-return to commercial service of these airframes as we believe failure to do will result in more needless deaths.

“We,demand that Airbus Superpumas H225 and AS332 L2 should not to be reintroduced into commercial operations in the UKCS and to be permanently removed from service transporting offshore workers, as they have been involved in one incident too many, where yet again fatalities have occurred, and we wish to express a vote of no-confidence in the safety of these airframes.”

Several supermajors including Royal Dutch Shell and Norway’s Statoil have ruled out using the helicopters again in UK operations.

Others such as BP are awaiting the outcome of the completed Norway accident investigation before making any commercial decisions.

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