NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

New offshore helicopter surveillance system takes off

Helicopter at Aberdeen Airport [Pic: National Air Traffic Services]
Image caption Aberdeen Airport is a major focus of offshore helicopter travel

A new surveillance system that can track offshore helicopters has become operational, it has been announced.

Helicopters going to and from North Sea oil and gas platforms are now visible to air traffic controllers from takeoff to landing.

"Multilateration" uses transmitters and receivers fitted to the platforms to track helicopters at a much greater range than radars.

It is a joint initiative by Oil and Gas UK and National Air Traffic Services.

John Mayhew, general manager of Nats in Aberdeen, said: "This is a major step forward for safety, as we can offer a traffic service to aircraft in the North Sea and pinpoint helicopters in emergency situations."

Robert Paterson, health, safety and employment issues director with Oil and Gas UK, said: "I am very pleased to see this system go live now.

"This is a considerable step forward in helicopter safety and typifies the sterling work done by the Helicopter Task Group - to drive important safety-related projects to a successful conclusion."

All 18 people on an offshore Super Puma helicopter survived a crash last year, but six weeks later another crashed, killing all 16 crew and passengers.

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