December 13 2013 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Helicopters in Norfolk could be deployed to Scotland to help transport offshore workers in the wake of a fatal crash in the North Sea.
Wreckage of the Super Puma helicopter that crashed into the North Sea last week, killing four people, has been taken to an island harbour.
The Bibby Polaris salvage boat arrived at Lerwick Harbour in Shetland at around 4am this morning, the harbour’s port control have said.
Parts of the helicopter including the gearbox and rotor head have been recovered but the flight recorder has not been found.
John Henderson, managing director of marine engineering firm Ocean Kinetics, told STV News divers had located further parts of the aircraft.
“Ocean Kinetics have successfully located, lifted and passed the gearbox and rotor head of the helicopter to the Bibby Polaris who took the parts on board,” he said.
“We have also located both engines and parts of the cockpit, which will likely be recovered on Thursday.
“We are still searching for the flight recorder, which we believe is located at the Point of Garths Ness. There is a heavy swell running hampering diving operations.”
It is hoped that the helicopter’s black box data recorder will shed light on what caused the helicopter to come down.
Police Scotland said its investigations into the crash are continuing alongside those of staff from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
Around 50 officers are carrying out inquiries in Shetland and Aberdeen, Detective Superintendent Malcolm Stewart said.
A review of the suspension of Super Puma flights which was introduced after Friday’s crash is scheduled to reconvene this afternoon.
According to an industry leader, aircraft operators with bases in Norwich and Great Yarmouth may be called upon to help Aberdeen’s energy industry cope with day-to-day operations after Super Puma helicopter flights were suspended following a crash which claimed four lives.
Simon Gray, chief executive of the East of England Energy Group, said Norfolk and Suffolk had the expertise to help, as the energy industry investigated ways to keep running flights from Aberdeen – despite the suspension.
Meanwhile, three helicopter operators based in the East, and Norwich International Airport, confirmed that offshore flights to the Southern North Sea had remained unaffected by the grounding of the Super Puma helicopters.
It comes as union leaders yesterday called for lessons to be learned in the offshore oil and gas industry in light of the tragedy, which unfolded on Monday morning.
Mr Gray said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who were lost during the tragic helicopter crash in the North Sea. We take safety in this sector extremely seriously.
“The industry always has systems in place and it will go out to see what aircraft from other services it can use. Clearly the East is well set up when trying to assist with the skills and expertise that we have here.
“Looking at the aircraft we have available, we could play a role.”
CHC helicopters, whose Super Puma helicopter was involved in the North Sea crash, confirmed that helicopter flights from its Norfolk base at North Denes were operating as normal.
And Bond Helicopters, which operate from Norwich airport and Lowestoft, along with Dancopter, which also operates from Norwich airport, confirmed that their flights were not interrupted.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bell, chief executive of Norwich International Airport, said the airport was operating as normal at the moment despite the North Sea tragedy.
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.