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All lost in North Sea Super Puma crash

2nd April 2009 - 19:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Air accident investigators have started an inquiry into what caused the loss of a Bond Offshore Super Puma helicopter on Wednesday.

All sixteen passengers and crew were killed when the AS332L2 crashed into the sea as it returned to Aberdeen from the BP-owned Miller platform.

On Thursday, Grampian Police named all but one of those onboard. So far only eight bodies have been recovered, and the search for the other eight is continuing.

The UK Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) had begun an inquiry into the incident, with 14 staff working on the case. The agency has hired the vessel, Vigilant, which will travel to Peterhead to pick up specialist survey equipment before returning to the scene of the crash.

At a press conference, BP said it would not be using Bond helicopters for transporting North Sea workers for the time being as a mark of respect.

Bill Munro, of Bond Helicopters said: "We appreciate the action that BP has taken to allow us some time to absorb the loss of two pilots.

"These are tragic, tragic events and we will fully comply with the AAIB investigation which kicked off last night and proceeds today."

BP's Bernard Looney said the decision to discontinue operations with Bond Helicopters for the moment was to allow the pilots to get over their loss.

He said: "The decision was taken to allow what is a tight-knit team some time to recover from what is a tragic incident.

"Coupled with that is that we need to make sure the people in charge of safety critical equipment have their minds fully on the job."

Chris Allen, health and safety director with Oil & Gas UK, said: "This is a dark day for our industry. With the recent accident in Canada also on our minds, the industry has experienced two accidents in a short space of time. This is devastating for everyone involved in the oil and gas industry.

"It is really hard to comprehend how this could have happened. Oil & Gas UK is determined to do everything possible to make helicopter travel as safe as it can be.

"We will work with the Air Accident Investigation Branch, BP and Bond Helicopters to learn everything possible from the investigations that will follow and ensure that any lessons are shared across the industry."

This is the second accident involving a Bond Helicopters aircraft in less than two months.

In February, all 18 people onboard a Bond EC225 were rescued when the aircraft ditched whilst on approach to a production platform 120 miles east of Aberdeen.

The victims were named as:

Brian Barkley, 30, of Aberdeen;

James Costello, 24, of Aberdeen;

Alex Dallas, 62, of Aberdeen;

Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld;

James John Edwards, 33, of Liverpool;

Vernon John Elrick, 41, of Aberdeen;

Nairn Ferrier, 40, of Dundee;

Nolan Carl Goble, 34, of Norwich;

Gareth Hughes, 53, of Angus;

Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire;

David Rae, 63, of Dumfries;

Leslie Taylor, 41, of Kintore, Aberdeenshire;

Stuart Wood, 27, of Aberdeen;

Richard Menzies, 24, co-pilot, of Droitwich Spa;

Paul Burnham, 31, captain, of Methlick, Aberdeenshire.

One other victim has not yet been named.

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