Survivors of a North Sea helicopter crash which killed four people including men from County Durham and South Shields have won millions in compensation.
The Super Puma helicopter plunged into the sea off Shetland in August 2013.
Oil workers Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland in County Durham, George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire who grew up in South Shields, Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray, and Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, died.
Both pilots and 12 remaining passengers escaped and now nine of the survivors have won compensation understood to be between £2.5 million and £3 million.
Lisa Gregory, head solicitor at the Aberdeen office of law firm Digby Brown, which represented the claimants, said:
Investigators found pilots failed to properly monitor the flight instruments onapproaching Sumburgh Airport on Shetland.
A final report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) issued in March found no mechanical fault with the helicopter, which was returning from the Borgsten Dolphin support vessel to Sumburgh.
The Government has rejected calls for a public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety after a series of crashes.
It follows the death of four people, including one man from County Durham, oil worker Duncan Munroe who had been returning to Shetland from a platform in the North Sea.
The House of Commons Transport Committee recommended a "full and independent" inquiry earlier this year after four people died in a Super Puma crash near Sumburgh airport in Shetland in August 2013.
It was the fifth helicopter accident involving the transfer of oil and gas industry personnel in the North Sea since 2009.
The Government has now responded to the report and said it "does not support" the call for a public inquiry:
Louise Ellman, Chair of the committee, said she is deeply disappointed that ministers have rejected their recommendation to hold an independent inquiry to investigate offshore helicopter safety:
The Transport Committee said it had been told by some in the industry that offshore workers who raise concerns about helicopter safety have been told they should leave the oil and gas industry and that there was a "macho bullying culture".
But Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK believes the report of a single, three word quote isn't sufficient to support the claim:
Mr Webb added that he did not support the calls for a public inquiry describing it as a "distraction" for the work of implementing the Civil Aviation Authority's recommendations, which include:
- Prohibiting helicopter flights in the most severe sea conditions to improve the chances of rescue and survival,
- Providing passengers with better emergency breathing systems,
- Modifications to helicopters and survival equipment and
- Changes to the way pilots are trained.
Mick Cash, general secretary of offshore union RMT says they "will continue to fight for a public inquiry and will continue to support the families of those who have lost loved-ones in our industry".
More than 2000km of power lines are being checked in the region from today.
Low flying helicopters will view north of the River Tees as well as west of the A1 in Yorkshire.
Farmers and landowners are being warned in case the inspections affect livestock in fields where power lines cross.
Search and rescue helicopters, including Sea Kings operating out of RAF Boulmer in Northumberland, are set to be replaced by a new fleet operated by an American company.
Under the new contract operations will end at RAF Boulmer and 22 new state-of-the-art helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.
Bristow, the American company who won the contract, say that the new fleet will be more advanced than the Sea King.
However, the MP for Berwick - Sir Alan Beith - told ITV News that the move will be sad for the community.
A private company is taking over the UK's helicopter search and rescue operations.
The Department for Transport announced the 10 year agreement with Bristow Group will start in 2015.
The £1.6 billion deal ends 70 years of search and rescue from the RAF and Royal Navy.
Under the new contract, 22 helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK, including RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.
The Department for Transport has said that under the new contract helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK Search and Rescue region within an hour of take-off than is currently possible.
It added that, based on historic incident data, it is estimated there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20 percent (from 23 to 19 minutes).
Presently, approximately 70 percent of high and very high-risk areas within the UK SAR region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85 percent of the same area would be reached within this time frame.
A flying instructor whose student died in a helicopter crash in North Yorkshire has been jailed for six months by a judge at Leeds Crown Court. Former Army Captain Ian King, aged 53, signed off Paul Spencer's training log just weeks before the tragedy.
He was found guilty of lying to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Mr Spencer, a wealthy businessman and his wife, Linda, from Brighouse, died when the helicopter he was piloting came down in Rudding Park at Harrogate in January 2008.
The court heard how Mr Spencer's flying experience fell below what was required for a licence. Judge Tom Bayliss QC told King his actions risked putting an inexperienced pilt at the controls of a helicopter.
A Middlesbrough man's among 19 people who've survived a helicopter ditching in the North Sea. 32 year old Jonathan Garcia was one of a team of oil workers being ferried from Aberdeen to a rig 86 miles north-west of Shetland. Rescue helicopter found all involved safe and well.