North Sea helicopter crash that killed 16 men 'was avoidable'

An inquiry into a North Sea helicopter crash that killed 16 men has found that it could have been avoided. Families of 14 oil workers and two crew members who died in 2009 have called for a full public inquiry.

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North Sea crash mother 'let down by the system'

Audrey Wood, who lost her son Stuart Wood in the North Sea helicopter crash said she felt let down by the failure for the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) to bring about criminal proceedings against the helicopter operator blamed for a series of errors that led to the fatal crash.

Not only did we hear of multiple breaches of health and safety but the decision was also made without all the evidence being present and vital witness statements had not been taken.

Safety is absolutely paramount and everything must be done by the book. There can be no excuse for not doing this. The length of wait of nearly five years has been intolerable for all the families and we, the families, feel let down by the system.


Companies 'more interested in burying than fact finding'

The lawyer for the families of the 16 men killed in the North Sea helicopter crash said they would trust nothing less than a full public inquiry into the failures that led to their deaths.

The wreckage of the helicopter, that crashed killing all 16 men on board. Credit: Andrew Milligan/ PA Wire

Mr Gordon said the Scottish and Westminster governments would be "astounded" at the way the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) had been conducted, and that the companies and authorities were more interested in hiding what had happened.

"If the Scottish Government and the Westminster Government looked at the way the FAI was conducted they would be astounded."

He said BP, the Civil Aviation Authority, Eurocopter and Bond had been more interested in "burying this" than fact-finding.

"Once again we reiterate our appeal that there should be a public inquiry here."

Families criticise length of crash inquiry

The families of the 16 men who died in a helicopter crash in the North Sea in 2009 have criticised the length of the inquiry.

Read: Helicopter operator failures blamed for fatal crash

The wreckage of the crash, that killed 16 men in 2009. Credit: Press Association archive

Speaking at a news conference in Aberdeen, their lawyer Chris Gordon reiterated calls for a public inquiry and asked the Crown Office to revisit the question of whether there should be prosecutions. He said:

"It is five years since this accident happened. The inquiry has taken far too long.

Many of the witnesses could simply not remember anything. It is an appalling state of affairs which the families all agree with."

  1. Border

North Sea helicopter crash: 'lessons have been learned'

A statement from Bond Offshore said: "We have always accepted that we made mistakes through honest confusion over telephone calls and emails.

"Lessons needed to be learned, lessons have been learned and lessons continue to be learned."

"We would like to express again our deep sorrow at the 16 lives lost in 2009. We owe it to their memories, and to the 160,000 men and women we carry every year, to continue to deliver the highest standards of safety in everything we do."

– Bond Offshore

Bond: Findings not proved beyond reasonable doubt

The helicopter operator heavily criticised by an inquiry into the North Sea helicopter crash in 2009 said the findings did not prove their responsibility beyond reasonable doubt.

Read: Helicopter operator failures blamed for fatal crash

In a statement, Bond Offshore said:

Although Sheriff Principal Pyle has indicated that spalling was, on balance, the most likely reason for the catastrophic gearbox failure which caused the accident - a view not shared by the independent Air Accidents Investigation Branch - he did not find that this was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Additionally, he determined that even if we had followed the correct procedure it is by no means certain that the gearbox would have been removed, as there may not have been sufficient evidence of particles to warrant its removal.

But we have always accepted that we made mistakes through honest confusion over telephone calls and emails.

The statement went on to express their "deep sorrow" at the loss of the 16 men who died in the crash.

More: Families call for public inquiry into North Sea helicopter crash


  1. Debi Edward

Helicopter operator failures blamed for fatal crash

The inquiry into the deaths of 16 men in a North Sea helicopter crash in 2009 identified the following failures of Bond, the helicopter operator:

  • The failed to carry out proper maintenance procedure after a metal particle had been discovered in the helicopter's chip detector
  • They failed to ensure proper communication with the manufacturer, in accordance with recognised procedures
  • The result of which was the failure to carry out specific maintenance tasks and in doing so the operator failed to avoid the consequences - the fatal crash.

Super Puma 'suffered catastrophic failure' before crash

A probe by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch found that a Bond Super Puma suffered a "catastrophic failure" of its main rotor gearbox before it crashed into the North Sea, killing 16 men.

The AAIB report said that the gearbox failure caused the main rotor on the AS332-L2 model to break away and its "tail boom" was severed from the fuselage.

A Fatal Accident Inquiry, which will publish its findings today, focused largely on maintenance carried out on the helicopter's gearbox in the weeks and months before the tragedy.

Read: Fatal air crash inquiry findings published today

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