Sunday 1 May 2016

Thirteen dead after helicopter crashes during flight from Norwegian oilfield.

Thirteen people have died after a helicopter crashed to the west of Bergen, Norway, on Friday 29 April 2016, during a return flight from the Gullfaks Oil Field in the North Sea. The names of the deceased have not been released, though they have been identified as eleven Norwegian citizens, a Briton and an Italian; all eleven passenger are understood to have been working on Statoil operated facilities in the oilfield, though not all were directly employed by the company, the helicopter was operated by CHC Helicopter. Witnesses have reported hearing unusual engine noises from the helicopter, after which a small explosion was witnessed on board, followed by the helicopter falling approximately 640 m into the sea close to the island of Turoey, then undergoing a second, larger explosion. No survivors are expected following the incident.

A rescue ship recovering the fuselage of the helicopter. Oil and Gas People.

The crashed helicopter is understood to be an Airbus EC225LP (or Super Puma), a model widely used in the oil industry, which had undergone scheduled replacement of its rota blades in March and its gearbox in January this year (helicopter components are typically replaced after a set number of flying hours, regardless of whether they show wear or damage). However the helicopter is understood to have twice had delays to scheduled replacement of parts in 2015, amounting to a total of 200 hours of flying time. 

Footage of the 29 April 2016 North Sea helicopter crash. TV2.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority with help from the British Civil Aviation Authority, who have previous experience of investigating Super Puma crashes (two of the helicopters crashed in Scotland in 2012, one on Shetland and one near Aberdeen). Both of the helicopter's black boxes (which store details of the helicopter's performance during a flight) have been recovered. All flights by Super Puma helicopters have been suspended in Norway while the cause of the crash is investigated, while the UK has banned all flights by the helicopters to oil instillation's, but is still allowing their use for other purposes.

The approximate location of the 29 April 2016 North Sea helicoper crash. BBC/Google Maps.

See also... least three dead following helicopter crash in Jubilee Oil Field off coast of Ghana.      Three people are known to have died in a helicopter crash off the Ghanaian coast during heavy rains on Thursday 8 May 2014. The... Sea oil rig partially evacuated following leak.                                                             The Cormorant Alpha oil rig, 161 km northeast of Lerwick, Shetland, was partially evacuated on Saturday 2 March 2012, following the discovery of a leak of hydrocarbons (oil) from one of its legs. 71...

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