Inquiry into fatal air crash

An inquiry is underway into a helicopter crash in 2009 which killed 16 people.

Witness: Rotor blades were separate from helicopter

The Fatal Accident Inquiry into a helicopter crash which killed 16 people got underway today.

An eyewitness, Lidvar Olav Hildre, had his statement read out at the hearing.

"The object was obviously a helicopter but I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

"It fell silently towards the sea. I don't think there was any smoke or anything coming from the helicopter at that point.

Just before the helicopter hit the sea, or just as the helicopter hit the sea, I cannot be sure which, I saw one flame come from the helicopter. I couldn't say exactly where on the helicopter this came from.

There was then a big splash as the helicopter hit the sea in a bang, then there was white smoke.

After this I then saw, quite clearly, four large black rotor blades all attached together falling out of the sky towards the sea, separate from the helicopter.

The rotor probably hit the sea around the same place as the helicopter but I never saw it hit.

– Lidvar Olav Hildre

As the only eyewitness account was read out, family members in the public gallery sat silently, some wiping tears from their eyes.

Fourteen oil workers, including Norwich man Nolan Goble, 34, and two crew were killed when the aircraft hit the sea on April 1, 2009.

Helicopter 'fell like a torpedo into the sea'

A picture of the memorial service Credit: PA

An eyewitness has described the moment a helicopter fell "like a torpedo" into the North Sea, claiming 16 lives, including that of a man from Norwich.

The account was given on the first day of a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) almost five years after the Super Puma plunged into water off Aberdeenshire

Lidvar Olav Hildre, a ship's mechanic, was painting a railing on board the Normand Aurora, a platform supply boat sailing to Norway.

He heard a helicopter making a "normal buzzing noise" above the ship.

"Apart from the helicopter noise I didn't hear anything else - then suddenly there was silence," he said in a statement to police which was read out at the inquiry in Aberdeen.

"This made me look into the air, as this was unusual, and I saw on the starboard side of us an oblong shape falling like a torpedo towards the sea."

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Fatal helicopter crash inquiry to get underway

Police guard gates to Aberdeen Harbour after the crash Credit: PA

An inquiry into a North Sea helicopter crash is due to begin, almost five years after the disaster in which 16 people died, including a man from Norwich.

Relatives of those who died on board the Super Puma are expected to attend the fatal accident inquiry in Aberdeen.

Nolan Goble, 34, from Norwich, was among14 oilworkers and two crew who died in the crash off the Aberdeenshire coast on April 1, 2009 .

The inquiry is expected to last about six weeks and will examine the circumstances of the crash in order to prevent any future tragedy.

The helicopter was returning from BP's Miller platform when the aircraft's main rotor gearbox suffered a "catastrophic failure".