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Helicopter safety fears

HELICOPTER operator Bristow has insisted that has never embarked on flights due to commercial pressure from oil and gas companies.

Mike Imlach was speaking during a Westminster inquiry into helicopter safety which was set up following last year’s Super Puma crash off Shetland, in which four people lost their lives.

His comments came after Unite union official John Taylor told MPs on the House of Commons transport select committee that workers did not speak up about safety concerns because they feared it would cost them their jobs.

“The helicopters keep falling out of the sky and crashing in the UK sector,” Taylor said. “The fact of the matter is that the offshore workforce wish to find out why that’s happening.

“Some of the concerns are about safety equipment, about getting out of helicopters. [There are] a number of issues that we need to discuss – this is not ‘everything is rosy in the garden’.”

Five serious incidents in as many years involving Super Puma helicopters offshore have resulted in the deaths of 20 workers.

But Imlac said he rejected the notion that operators felt under undue pressure to press ahead with flights.

“I can honestly say that we’ve never been under commercial pressure where we’ve felt it’s unsafe to continue a flight,” Imlach said during an evidence session held at Aberdeen University.

“If I don’t have the full parameters of safety and crews and aircraft, we will not fly – irrespective of the commercial pressure we may receive from a client.”

The inquiry continues.

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