Govt. rejects MPs’ call for public inquiry into N. Sea helicopter safety

helicopter rotor bladesBy DARA BUTTERFIELD

MPs on the Westminster Transport Select Committee have called for a public inquiry into ‘commercial pressures’ in the offshore aviation industry which could contribute to unsafe practices.

In their report, MPs said: “The CAA Review did not consider the evidence that commercial pressure impacts on helicopter safety in sufficient depth.

“The Government must convene a full, independent public enquiry on investigate commercial pressures on helicopter safety in the North Sea operating environment.

“That inquiry must also examine the role and effectiveness of the CAA”

However, the government have dismissed the call with a spokesman saying, “neither the CAA, Industry nor Government has seen any evidence to suggest that safety is being compromised as a result of commercial pressure from the industry.

 “The Committee’s report states that helicopter operators do not support the accusation that commercial pressure from their customers affects the safety of their operations and hotly dispute the suggestion made by BALPA.

“In the circumstances the Government does not support the call for a public inquiry on this issue.”

* The Cross-Party Group of MSPs on Oil and Gas meets at Holyrood tonight (29 October). All are welcome.

The government stressed the safety of UK offshore helicopters saying: “We are pleased to note that the Committee has found no evidence that the Super Puma helicopter is any less safe that other helicopters used in the UK offshore sector and that there is also no evidence to suggest that UK operations are any less safe than operations conducted by other states, particularly Norway, who operate under a similar safety regime in the same hostile North Sea environment.”

Robert Paterson, Director of Health, Safety and Employment, Oil & Gas UK, commented: “We are encouraged that neither the Civil Aviation Authority, the Government nor the industry found evidence of commercial pressures adversely impacting on safety. This is an important reassurance for our workforce.

“We further welcome Government’s recognition of the fact that the safety of UK helicopter operations in the North Sea is comparable to those conducted in other states, in particular Norway.

“Everyone has a right to get to and from their workplace safely and we will continue to strive to make our transport activities safer.  We all have a critical role – the Civil Aviation Authority, Government, trade unions, oil and gas companies, helicopter operators and the workforce – to ensure safety remains of paramount importance.”


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