The RMT trade union has vowed to step up pressure for a public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety after a report showed engineer fatigue contributed to the collapse of an aircraft’s landing gear.
A CHC-operated H175 was coming in to land in Aberdeen last July when crew heard a “crunching noise” and the helicopter nose appeared to dip, while inspection teams on the ground saw parts of the nose landing gear hanging off the helicopter.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) found a maintenance task, carried out 50 hours beforehand, had not been correctly completed, with a key component not being replaced.
It said the engineer supervising the task had only two days’ rest over a 31-day period, which had “not been identified by shift managers”.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the perceived lack of care for engineers working on the North Sea fleet was “deeply disturbing”.
Earlier this year the Scottish Government said it would not back calls for an inquiry, which would ultimately have to be brought by Westminster.
AAIB’s report came just a month after a crack was found in the horizontal stabiliser of another H175 helicopter, operated by Babcock.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Following on from the images of a damaged tail rotor on a 175, the findings of fatigue and a lack of care for engineers working on the offshore helicopter fleet is deeply disturbing for offshore workers and their families.
“The government’s abject failure to take this problem seriously over the last decade is another slap in the face for offshore workers who keep our economy ticking over but are simply expected to get on with travelling in helicopters that are subject to dangerous levels of commercial pressure.
“This ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach to the safety of offshore workers must be faced down and an independent public inquiry launched into the safety of offshore helicopters, including the commercial pressures that this latest safety investigation has again flagged up.
“RMT will be stepping up the pressure on government and safety agencies for that inquiry this week. ”