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October 23, 2012

One-third of UK offshore helicopter fleet grounded

One-third of the UK's offshore helicopter fleet was grounded yesterday after a helicopter dipped into the North Sea on Monday.

By Heidi Vella

One-third of the UK’s offshore helicopter fleet was grounded yesterday after a helicopter dipped into the North Sea on Monday.

According to Oil and Gas UK, 29 aircraft of the 86 offshore fleet have been grounded by operators Bond Aviation, CHC Helicopter and Bristow.

"The incident revived fears regarding Super Pumas, which have now been involved in four separate ditching incidents in four years."

The helicopter that ditched south of Shetland into the sea on Monday was a Eurocopter Super Puma, as are all the other grounded helicopters.

All 19 people aboard the helicopter travelling to a rig operated on behalf of Total SA (TOT) were successfully rescued.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is now investigating the incident.

Oil and Gas UK’s health and safety policy manager, Bob Lauder, said: "Oil and Gas UK is pleased to hear that all 19 people on board this helicopter have been successfully rescued.

"This is testament to the skill of the pilots, as well as the comprehensive survival training which all offshore workers must undergo to prepare them for this type of situation. We now await more information on the cause of this incident."

The incident revived fears regarding Super Pumas, which have now been involved in four separate ditching incidents in four years.

In 2009 16 people died after in a Super Puma ditching incident.

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