A helicopter pilot has expressed his confidence at getting back in the cockpit of a Super Puma aircraft after all flying restrictions were lifted on the fleet.
The over-water flying ban on EC225 models was removed after manufacturer Eurocopter made a series of safety improvements and crews are already being given training on the new measures.
CHC Helicopter held an open day at its base in Dyce yesterday where offshore workers and their families could visit the passenger terminal, flight planning department and the helicopter hangar. EC225 pilot Will Hanekom has worked for CHC for six years and clocked up 3,000 flying hours with the company.
He said: “I am not going to risk my family’s or my future.
“There is no risk involved in getting back in the EC225s.
“We want to see the EC225s back in the air, they are very good helicopters and they are the best for the North Sea.
“Eurocopter adapted a combat helicopter that is currently used by the French Army for the 225 model and they have incredibly safe onboard systems.”
The helicopters were grounded after two ditchings last year; in May and October, and CHC’s EC225 pilots were trained to fly other models in the meantime.
Mark Abbey, regional director of CHC West North Sea, said: “It is about giving our passengers, their families and their loved ones a chance to be informed about the services that we provide for them.
“We are very confident that we are bringing the EC225s back into service in a very safe manner.
“Passengers are kept well informed and are offered access to pilots and operational teams.
“It could be as little as having a conversation with one of the pilots or it could be a formal briefing – both on and offshore.
“The return to service will be within weeks, not months. We are absolutely satisfied with the safety regulations that have been put in place and the work that has been done by Eurocopter.”
Scott Heron, a 39-year-old offshore worker on the Nelson platform, said his confidence in the fleet has not wavered in the past two years.
The father-of-three said: “Around 700 people leave from the CHC terminal each day and there are three helicopter operators so the fact that there have only been two incidents shows how important the training is.
“My opinion of the aircraft has not changed because getting in them is just part of my job.”