Safety before commerce says Sir Robert Smith MP


Sir Robert commented last week on a new report from the House of Commons Transport Select Committee looking at offshore helicopter safety.

The inquiry was launched following a helicopter crash off the coast of Sumburgh, Shetland in August 2013- the fifth offshore helicopter crash in four years.

Sir Robert said: “Everyone involved in the oil and gas industry wants to see fewer accidents offshore. Reports that some workers may have been told to quit the industry if they had concerns over helicopter safety are a real concern.

“The issues identified in this report highlights the crucial role played by helicopters in North Sea operations.

“Commercial pressures should never come above the safety of key staff. Companies, Minsters and regulators alike need to reflect closely on the report’s recommendations.”

The purpose of the inquiry is to examine how operators, the oil and gas industry and regulators can improve standards for offshore workers.

On 27 January the Committee visited Aberdeen to meet with helicopter manufacturers and operators. The Committee was briefed on how helicopters are maintained, how weather is monitored in the North Sea and how pilots are trained and held its first evidence session with trade unions, operators, manufacturers and representatives of oil and gas.

At its second evidence session on March 17, the Committee heard from the AAIB, CAA, EASA and the Aviation Minister.