Offshore helicopter safety - Transport Committee Contents

6  Conclusion

55. Helicopter transfer across the North Sea has inherent risks but remains the most practical mode of transport for the offshore oil and gas industry. Five accidents since 2009 have led to a loss of confidence from the offshore work force in helicopter transport that will be difficult to remedy. Industry safety groups and operators have worked to rebuild confidence but more needs to be done. We were disheartened to learn of instances that reflect a "macho bullying culture"[89] in the industry and wish to be reassured that the flawed EBS safety briefing in not indicative of complacency toward safety.

56. We welcome the CAA review into offshore helicopter safety. This document set out detailed recommendations for improving the survivability of helicopter crashes. We highlighted areas of the review that we think require additional work, particularly concerning occurrence reporting, the standardisation of customer requirements and the implementation of seating restrictions. The CAA now needs the co-operation of the oil and gas industry, helicopter operators and EASA to ensure its recommendations are carried through to conclusion. We have called on the DfT to use its influence to ensure EASA has prioritised that important work.

57. The CAA review did not look in sufficient detail at two key areas of offshore helicopter operations. The first was the offshore industry's highly competitive environment. Commercial sensitivities ensure that it is difficult for external reviews to examine the contractual obligations set by industry. The second was the role and effectiveness of the CAA itself. Those who work in the hazardous conditions of the North Sea deserve to know those issues have been properly evaluated. We believe only a full, independent public inquiry would have the resources, remit and power to do this.

89   RMT (HCS0015) para 4.5 Back

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Prepared 8 July 2014