When news happens, text AND and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Unite in crash helicopters demand
A diver works on the wreckage of the Super Puma L2 helicopter which went down about two miles west of Sumburgh airport on Shetland
All Super Puma helicopter flights should remain suspended until the cause of the recent crash which claimed four lives is identified, according to a union.
Unite said workforce confidence in the aircraft type has been "shattered" following last week's crash in the water off the southern tip of Shetland - the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.
The union said it will be making its case at a meeting of the Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) in Aberdeen, in which it will also argue that workers refusing to fly must be supported by their employers.
Unite's calls come as another union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), prepares to hold a rally in Aberdeen amid growing concern about safety offshore.
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said "anger and fear" among the workforce is on the up. "The Super Puma fleet must remain grounded at the very least until the black box from Friday's crash is recovered and its data reveals the cause of this catastrophe - this isn't up for debate," he said. Mr Rafferty said the union will also demand answers to reports that workers on the Borgsten Dolphin platform were briefed by oil company reps not to work offshore if they could not live with the risk of flying in helicopters. "The industry will also have to provide some serious answers to the reports exposing the briefing of workers on the Borgsten Dolphin," said Mr Rafferty.
There were 16 passengers and two crew on the Super Puma AS332 L2 travelling from the Borgsten Dolphin support vessel when it plunged into the sea on Friday, killing three men and one woman. The victims were named as Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham; George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire; Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray; and 59-year-old Gary McCrossan, from Inverness.
Investigators have been using specialist sonar equipment to search for the helicopter's black box data recorder, which it is hoped will shed some light on the cause of the fatal crash. The Super Puma type is said to make up about half of the UK offshore industry's 75-strong helicopter fleet.
At the Aberdeen rally, relatives of people killed as a result of offshore safety failings will join union leaders in calling for improvements in the wake of the latest helicopter crash. The RMT had planned to protest near the heliport of CHC, the operator of the Super Puma which came down last week. But the protest at Aberdeen Airport was called off in favour of a city centre rally after the union said Oil and Gas UK had met its demand for guaranteed access to workers on platforms and at heliports.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the agreement would give offshore workers a platform to express their concerns. "Following talks with the employers we have secured a massive breakthrough on our core demand of workplace access which will enable us to build an organisation that can fight for real collective improvements to offshore working conditions including on the central issue of safety," he said. "We will rally at our new Aberdeen HQ to start that fight for a new and safer future for the whole industry." Mr Crow, who will attend the rally in Crown Street with Norwegian colleagues, said the event would let people offshore know that everything possible is being done to secure their safety.
CHC has temporarily suspended all flights of the three types of Super Puma helicopter that it operates - the L, L2 and EC225. Fellow operators Bond Offshore Helicopters and Bristow also enforced a temporary suspension of all Super Puma flights except emergency rescue missions. It follows a recommendation by the offshore industry's Helicopter Safety Steering Group which urged the precautionary measure until there is "sufficient factual information" to resume flights. The group is meeting again on Wednesday.