Investigators - Fatal Helicopter Crash off Norway Due Technical Error

Reuters

OSLO/PARIS, May 3 (Reuters) - A helicopter crash that killed 11 oil workers and two crew on Friday off the Norwegian coast was due to a technical fault, not human error, Norway's Accident Investigation Board said on Tuesday.

An Airbus H225 Super Puma helicopter ferrying passengers from a Norwegian oil platform crashed in the North Sea on Friday, killing all 13 people on board.

"We are as certain as we can be that a technical error caused the accident. We don't think it was due to human misinterpretations," the director of the board's aviation department, Kaare Halvorsen, told reporters.

He also confirmed statements by the helicopter operator, CHC, that the two pilots did not have time to send an emergency mayday message before the crash.

Separately, aviation sources said the European Aviation Safety Agency, which regulates the airworthiness of helicopters, was discussing with Airbus whether to issue a directive ordering checks on the Super Puma.

Airbus, which had initially urged a halt to all Super Puma flights, said on Monday commercial operations could resume outside UK and Norway, saying initial evidence did not suggest a link between the accidents and two North Sea ditching in 2012.

The Super Puma is the workhorse of the oil industry, ferrying workers to and from offshore installations. Helicopter operators said they had been able to maintain service despite the flight bans by using Sikorsky helicopters.

"We have other aircrafts in our fleet so we're using those," said a spokeswoman for operator Bristow Group, adding it was too early to say whether it would have to replace its Super Pumas in the long-term.

In total there are 179 H225 helicopters in service worldwide, including 40 operating in the North Sea.

"We're continuing to work with our customers to prioritize the availability of alternative resources and will provide as much capacity as possible using those resources," a CHC spokesman said.

Separately, oil firm Shell said on Monday it was suspending all flights in Norway with CHC but would continue using the firm in other countries.

"As a precaution, it is decided to temporarily suspend all CHC ... passenger flights for Shell in Norway," said a company spokeswoman.

(Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen, writing Gwladys Fouche and Stine Jacobsen, editing by Louise Heavens)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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