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Helicopter salvage operation ongoing

The upturned helicopter floating in the sea - Photo: Peter Hutchison/ShetNews


THE OPERATION to retrieve all parts of the wreckage of the Super Puma L2 helicopter from Quendale Bay, in Shetland, continued on Monday.

It is believed that the investigation team is still looking for the cockpit voice and flight data recorder (the black box), which is housed in the tail section of the helicopter.

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A spokeswoman for the department of transport, in London, said she could not confirm why the Bibby Polaris was still at the wreckage site as they were not providing “a running commentary” on the salvage operation.

The dive support vessel was initially expected to make her way to Aberdeen on Sunday night after the fuselage of the helicopter had been lifted from the water the same afternoon.

Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland; Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin; Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness; and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, all lost their lives when the aircraft ditched into the sea just off Fitful Head, at around 6.20pm on Friday.

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Photos taken by a local resident less than an hour later show the upturned Super Puma L2 floating just below the cliffs at Garths Ness.

Rescue teams reported early on Saturday morning that the helicopter had broken into three sections.

The CHC operated helicopter, carrying two crew and 16 oil workers contracted to Total, was on route to Sumburgh airport from the Borgsten Dolphin drilling rig, 110 miles to the northeast.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch’s (AAIB) chief investigator Keith Conradi told the BBC that a first report on the accident could be expected later this week.

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“Once we have validated the data we will produce a fairly short special bulletin and if we found any safety deficiencies at that stage, we will include safety recommendations in that bulletin, and you can expect that within a matter of days.

“The final report will take much longer, it could be a year or more,” Conradi said in a BBC interview.

Meanwhile, the Daily Record newspaper reported on Monday that the same model of helicopter was involved in an “emergency landing” on Total’s Cormorant Alpha platform, just three days before the fatal accident.

The Bibby Polaris was still in Quendale Bay on Monday evening - Photo: ShetNews

The paper said operator CHC Helicopter had told them that a different Super Puma L2 was forced to make the landing after a warning light came on.

Following safety checks the aircraft was able to continue its journey to Sumburgh airport.

Shetland’s most senior police officer said there was a tangible sense of mourning and shock in the community.

Chief inspector Angus MacInnes said: “The quick and co-ordinated response by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), RNLI and other emergency services may have prevented further loss of life in this already tragic incident.

“The response to Friday’s incident has included hundreds of people from a variety of organisations including the MCA, RNLI, RAF, Police Scotland, the local NHS, local authority and the offshore industry itself.

“In the north of Scotland we have had responsibility for the policing of the offshore industry for several decades and regrettably we have considerable experience and expertise in dealing with this type of event.”

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