14 rescued after helicopter ditches

14 rescued after helicopter ditches

The RNLI has attended the crew and passengers of a helicopter that made a controlled descent into the North Sea

An RAF image of the helicopter that ditched in the North Sea off the coast of Aberdeen (RAF/PA)

Ashley Roy, director of communications for Bond Helicopters, at a press conference in Aberdeen

First published in National News © by

All of the passengers and crew from a helicopter that ditched in the North Sea have arrived safely back on land after air and sea rescues.

Fourteen people - 12 passengers and two crew - were on board the aircraft when it came down 25 miles (40km) off the coast of Aberdeen shortly after midday. Everyone on board was recovered from the sea and put in life rafts.

Nine men were flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary while the remaining five were taken to Aberdeen by lifeboat. One man is being detained at the hospital while all the others have been discharged or are not expected.

The EC225 Super Puma helicopter, operated by Bond Offshore, had been on its way from Aberdeen to the offshore Maersk Resilient rig and the Ensco 102 rig. Rig operator Conoco Phillips said the passengers were contractors on their way to support the drilling rigs.

A Bond spokesman said: "A low pressure oil warning light came on and the helicopter made a controlled descent and landed in the North Sea. It didn't crash."

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Incidents such as these remain very rare but do serve as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by those offshore workers who are required to use helicopters on a regular basis."

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, praised the helicopter's pilots, saying it "looks like a terrific piece of airmanship from very skilled pilots". But RMT union general secretary Bob Crow said the incident "shines the spotlight yet again on the issue of safety in our offshore industry".

Bond confirmed that the decision to make the landing was taken by the pilot during the routine flight "in response to an oil pressure warning light".

Ashley Roy, director of commercial services, said: "It's a difficult procedure and the pilot and co-pilot should be commended for their skill in executing this procedure. As a result of their skill, 12 passengers and the two crew themselves were unhurt and were able to return to their families today."

Speaking during a press conference in Aberdeen, he said: "It is the third incident in three years; however, thousands of hours are flown offshore in helicopters every year. Bond itself conducts over 40,000 flying hours per annum."

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