RMT repeats call for helicopter enquiry

The RMT has repeated its call for an independent public enquiry into the safety of offshore helicopter transport in the North Sea, ahead of a Commons debate on the subject today.

33 offshore workers and crew died and 65 were rescued as a result of helicopter accidents across the North Sea in the decade from February 2009. All of these incidents, including the fatal incident off the Norwegian coast on 29 April 2016 involved Super Puma helicopters. These were withdrawn in May 2016 and have not been used in the North Sea since, despite the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) releasing airworthiness certificates in July 2017.

Trade union opposition is keeping more than 30 Super Pumas on the ground, but there is an ongoing decline in offshore workers’ confidence in the safety of helicopter transport. Commercial pressure on helicopter operators from the oil companies has long been identified by offshore workers and their trade unions as a threat to safety but in 2014 the government refused to accept the Transport Select Committee’s call for an independent public inquiry into the safety of offshore helicopter transport.

The CAA issued recommendations for improvement in 2014 but these have not addressed the core issue of declining confidence. An independent public inquiry would provide clarity and certainty for offshore workers over the future direction of offshore helicopter transport in the North Sea.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has been fighting for an independent public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety for over a decade now and that fight for transparency across the industry on this critical issue continues as the House of Commons prepares to debate the issue today.

“Commercial pressures must never be allowed to threaten offshore workers’ safety and it is only an independent public inquiry that would provide the clarity and certainty that RMT members are demanding over the future direction of helicopter transport in the North Sea.”

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