Super Puma flights suspended worldwide after sea tragedy

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All Super Puma flights to and from UK offshore installations have been suspended after a helicopter flying oil workers plunged into the North Sea off Shetland, killing four people.

Helicopter operator CHC said flights of its Super Puma AS332 L2 aircraft, the model which ditched without warning while carrying 18 people, are suspended globally until further notice.

It has also suspended all UK commercial flights of the three other models in the Super Puma range following a recommendation from an aviation safety group.

After an emergency meeting the offshore industry’s Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) urged the precautionary measure until there is “sufficient factual information” to resume flights.

Fellow operators Bond Offshore Helicopters and Bristow have also enforced a temporary suspension of Super Puma flights.

The HSSG is due to meet again on Wednesday to review the situation unless “any significant information come to light before this date”.

Rescuers are yet to recover one of the bodies following Friday evening’s crash around two miles west of Sumburgh airport when the helicopter is believed to have experienced a “catastrophic” loss of power.

Those who died have been named as Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham; George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire; Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Scotland; and 59-year-old Gary McCrossan, from Inverness.

Following the crash, 14 people were taken to safety during a major rescue response involving the coastguard, police, RAF and RNLI. They were taken to hospital on Shetland, where two were being treated last night. The other 12 survivors have returned safely to Aberdeen.

Helicopter operator CHC said the aircraft lost communication as it approached the airport on the southern tip of Shetland’s main island.

One Total employee was on board and the remainder worked for contract companies, including those killed.

Mr Munro leaves behind wife Penny and 12-year-old daughter Katie. His family said in a statement: “He will be sadly missed by everyone that knew him and his death will leave a large void in a lot of people’s lives.”

Ms Darnley’s family was brought up in Elgin and moved to Aberdeen aged 19. The offshore worker is survived by parents Anne and Edmund Darnley, her sister Angela and nephew Nicholas.

Her mother Anne said: “We are shocked by the sudden loss of Sarah, who was a fun-loving free spirit who will be sorely missed.

“Sarah lived life to the full; she was easy going and a one-off. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her.”

Mr McCrossan worked for Stork Technical Services. Mike Mann, a senior vice president at the firm, said: “Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gary’s family and to all of those affected by this tragedy.”

Mr Allison had been working at the Offshore Dunbar Platform as a project safety supervisor for just over a year when he was killed, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He described himself as a “highly qualified, experienced and competent Safety Adviser” who has worked in the offshore industry for 27 years.

A team from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has travelled to Aberdeen to carry out initial inquiries into the incident.

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