WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

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Legal 500 (2016)

CHC Helicopters - Scotland

On 23 August 2013, a Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma Mk2 operated by CHC Helicopters crashed into the sea off the coast of the Shetland Islands in Scotland while on approach to Sumburgh Airport.

Of the 18 occupants on board, four were tragically killed. Irwin Mitchell is currently investigating this incident.

The Air Accidents Invesitigation Branch (AAIB) released a special bulletin on 5 September. This bulletin states that the recorded data shows that at three miles from the runway threshold, the helicopter was on the published horizontal and vertical profile of the approach to Runway 09, with the airspeed decreasing steadily.

At around two miles from the runway threshold, the helicopter was approximately 240 feet below the vertical approach profile, with a rate of descent of about 500 feet per minute, and an airspeed of 68 knots.

The airspeed continued to reduce to below 30 knots and as it did so the helicopter pitched increasingly nose-up. The rate of descent remained constant for a period, before increasing rapidly. Shortly thereafter the helicopter, which was intact, struck the sea in a near level pitch attitude with a slight right bank. Both engines were delivering power until impact.

The AAIB bulletin goes on to state that no evidence of a causal technical failure had been identified; however, detailed examination of the CVFDR data and the helicopter wreckage is continuing.

Irwin Mitchell represents 12 passengers involved in another helicopter ditching incident in the North Sea which occurred in October 2012. This also involved a Eurocopter Super Puma helicopter operated by CHC. Preliminary AAIB reports indicate that this incident was caused by a fault with the gearbox lubrication system.

News of this latest tragedy is clearly shocking and also raises significant safety concerns. Since February 2009, there now have been five serious accidents in the North Sea involving Eurocopter Super Puma helicopters, with twenty passengers and crew losing their lives.

If you would like to speak in confidence to an expert regarding this latest accident, or any other aviation incident you were involved in, please contact a member of the aviation team on 0800 056 4110. The team will be able to advise you on the potential causes, the relevant law and the parties who may be liable.

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