Super Puma EC 225 returns to service after ditchings

Ditched helicopter A total of 19 passengers and crew were rescued when a Super Puma ditched off Shetland

The Super Puma model grounded after two ditchings has taken to the skies again for commercial service, BBC Scotland has learned.

Super Puma EC 225s were grounded in the wake of two incidents off Aberdeen and Shetland last year.

They were given approval to fly again last month, and returned to service from Aberdeen Airport on Wednesday morning.

The CHC-operated flight for Total departed at about 10:15.

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Today's flights will be followed by more over the coming days and weeks”

End Quote CHC spokesperson

A CHC spokesperson said: "Today, CHC Helicopter returned the Eurocopter EC 225 aircraft to full commercial service in Aberdeen.

"The return to service comes after months of investigating, testing, modifying, and collaborating - by Eurocopter, helicopter operators, oil-and-gas companies, regulators, and groups representing pilots, offshore workers and others.

"The flight included CHC pilot Will Hanekom, who is meeting with offshore workers. He is there to answer any questions about the process for the EC 225s safe return to full commercial service - from the thorough investigation to the safety barriers now in place."

The spokesperson added: "From the start, CHC has been committed to resuming overwater flights with EC 225s only when it was safe to do so.

"Today's flights will be followed by more over the coming days and weeks."

'Highest standards'

A Total spokesperson said: "The flight has taken senior managers and a CHC chief pilot to the installation in order for us to start our communication exercise with our offshore workers regarding the return to service of the EC 225 fleet.

"This will give the offshore workforce the opportunity to consult with senior management and to ask questions regarding the EC 225's return to service.

"This is the first in a series of visits over the coming days and weeks to allow us to cover all our operational assets in the North Sea."

A Bond spokesperson said: "Bond continues to work on training its pilots and engineers on the safe implementation of the approved preventative, monitoring and modification measures, and continues to work with Eurocopter, the regulators, our oil and gas industry customers and the HSSG (Helicopter Safety Steering Group) to achieve a safe return to flying operations for the aircraft.

"Our commitment to delivering the highest standards of safety remains paramount, and Bond will only resume flying EC 225 aircraft once we are sure it is safe to do so."

'Core value'

And a spokesperson for Bristow Helicopters said: "Bristow is in the process of making the required modifications to our EC 225 fleet in the UK, Norway and Australia.

"We intend to return the aircraft to service once this work is complete. We expect this will result in our return to commercial service for the EC 225 in the period October to December 2013.

"Safety remains Bristow's number one core value."

In May last year, all 14 people on board a Super Puma were rescued when the helicopter came down off the coast of Aberdeen during a flight to an oil rig.

In October, all 19 people on board were rescued safely after the Super Puma put down in the sea off Shetland.

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