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OFFSHORE FLIGHTS ARE AXED.

Byline: Lynn McPherson

All Super Pumas were grounded last night after an emergency meeting of the UK oil industry's safety group.

The dramatic decision was made by Step Change In Safety's Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) in Aberdeen.

They agreed to axe all Super Puma flights in the North Sea over fears that more lives could be lost.

Their decision to ground four models of Super Puma - AS332L, L1, L2 and EC225 - will be reviewed on Wednesday.

Members of the group include helicopter firms, oil companies, trade unions, pilots' union BALPA, the Health and Safety Executive, the Civil Aviation Authority and Oil & Gas UK.

John Taylor, of Unite union, said: "It was a decision taken purely on safety grounds and applies to all the models.

"This accounts for around half of the helicopter fleet and represents a 50 per cent reduction in capacity.

"People still have to get on and off shore and we need to find out the ramifications of this but, as of now, no Super Pumas will fly offshore."

Oil & Gas UK said: "Step Change In Safety's Helicopter Safety Steering Group met to discuss the helicopter accident off Shetland.

"All members expressed their condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those who tragically lost their lives and to the survivors.

"As a result, the HSSG have taken the precautionary measure of recommending temporary suspension of all Super Puma commercial passenger flights to and from offshore oil and gas installations within the UK."

Oil & Gas UK will meet oil and gas operators tomorrow to discuss the implications.

Canadian firm CHC Helicopter decided yesterday to suspend all Super Puma L2 flights in the 30 countries where they operate.

Last month, the company had an open day in Aberdeen to reassure offshore workers and their families. It took place at the same time the previously grounded EC225s were being returned to service.

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SAFETY FIRST John Taylor
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 25, 2013
Words:319
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