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Super Puma victims died waiting for delayed boat.

THREE of the four victims of a Super Puma helicopter crash off Shetland drowned while waiting for a delayed rescue boat, it emerged yesterday.

Death certificates revealed drowning claimed the lives of Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester.

It was already known that the fourth victim of the tragedy, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, had suffered heart failure.

The latest interim Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report into the August 23 tragedy claimed it was "survivable".

There were 18 people on the helicopter when it went down close to shore on a flight to Shetland's Sumburgh airport.

TRAGIC An AAIB report in October revealed a rescue boat took nearly an hour to reach the wreckage.

One boat supposed to leave from a slipway to the west of the airport was delayed due to tidal conditions.

While not suggesting lives could have been saved, the AAIB said: "This accident has highlighted that, in the majority of tidal conditions, the FRC (fast rescue craft) may not be able to respond to aircraft accidents in the sea on the western side of Sumburgh airport within the available survival time.

"It is recommended that the operator of Sumburgh airport, Highlands and Islands Airports, provide a water rescue capability, suitable for all tidal conditions."

The Civil Aviation Authority are currently reviewing rescue provision for the area.

The AAIB investigation has already established that the Super Puma's two-man crew didn't notice they had lost too much speed until it was too late.

Investigators said they had yet to find any evidence of a technical fault which could have caused the incident.

story However, they found the aircraft's pre-set air speed reduced to a critically low level just before the crash "unobserved by the crew".

The investigation is examining the effectiveness of pilot monitoring of instruments and the training of crews.

In September, welder Gary McCrossan's death certificate revealed "cardiac enlargement and coronary artery disease" as the cause of his death.

The doomed Super Puma had been flying workers home from the Borgsten Dolphin oil platform.

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TRAGIC Our story

DISASTER The wreckage of the Super Puma helicopter in the sea off Shetland
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 18, 2013
Words:368
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