Fatal helicopter crashed into North Sea ‘like a torpedo’, inquest told


A Super Puma helicopter
A Super Puma helicopter

The fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of 16 men – who died in 2009 after the Bond Super Puma helicopter in which they were travelling crashed into the North Sea ‘like a torpedo’ – has opened in Aberdeen.

The inquiry was told yesterday that a fault on the main gearbox was detected on 23 March 2009, eight days before the crash. The inquiry heard there was an initial view it should be replaced.

It was not replaced and the subsequent Air Accidents Investigation Branch report blamed a catastrophic gear box failure for the crash, which happened 12 miles off Peterhead and left no survivors.

Yesterday the sheriff refused a bid for technical logs to be produced for all Bond helicopters operating out of Aberdeen at the time of the Super Puma crash.

The inquiry, which is being held in Aberdeen Town House, is expected to last six weeks.

The two crew who died were Capt Paul Burnham, 31, of Methlick, Aberdeenshire, and co-pilot Richard Menzies, 24, of Droitwich Spa, who worked for Bond Offshore Helicopters.

The KCA Deutag employees killed were Brian Barkley, 30, of Aberdeen; Vernon Elrick, 41, of Aberdeen; Leslie Taylor, 41, of Kintore, Aberdeenshire; Nairn Ferrier, 40, of Dundee; Gareth Hughes, 53, of Angus; David Rae, 63, of Dumfries; Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld; James John Edwards, 33, of Liverpool; Nolan Goble, 34, of Norwich, and Mihails Zuravskis, 39, of Latvia.

The other victims were James Costello, 24, of Aberdeen, who was contracted to Production Services Network (PSN); Alex Dallas, 62, of Aberdeen, who worked for Sparrows Offshore Services; Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, who worked for Weatherford UK, and Stuart Wood, 27, of Aberdeen, who worked for Expro North Sea Ltd.

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