UK & World News
North Sea Helicopter Crash 'Was Preventable'
A North Sea helicopter crash that killed 16 men could have been prevented if its operator had taken "reasonable precautions," a report has found.
Fourteen oil rig workers and two pilots died when the Super Puma crashed on April 1, 2009, as it flew back to shore from BP's Miller platform.
Their grieving families reacted to the findings by the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) at a news conference this morning.
They called for the Lord Advocate to look again at the evidence and reconsider a criminal prosecution.
They also demanded a full public inquiry into the tragedy and said they would trust nothing else.
An investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded the crash was caused by a catastrophic failure of the gearbox.
The FAI, overseen by Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle, spent six weeks looking at the circumstances of the crash.
Mr Pyle was critical of Bond, the company which operated the Super Puma AS332-L2, but did not go as far as to say the firm was responsible for the crash.
He said Bond failed to adhere to recognised maintenance procedures.
It also failed to ensure communications with helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter were in accordance with established procedures.
The FAI heard evidence about a potentially serious problem discovered a week before the crash.
The Super Puma was grounded after computer software detected the presence of a metallic chip in the gearbox - an indication of fatigue fracture.
Engineers at Bond consulted Eurocopter over how to address the fault.
However, the inquiry was told communications between the operator and the manufacturer were confused.
As a result, the gearbox was not replaced and the helicopter was cleared to fly.
The inquiry also heard evidence of technical log books indicating Bond engineers took just 10 minutes to carry out checks on the helicopter on the day before the tragedy - less time than it takes to start up and shut down the aircraft.
An AAIB report into the crash found confusion, mistakes and miscommunication were to blame for a faulty gearbox not being replaced before the crash.
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