On 29 April 2016 a CHC Helikopter Service Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma (H225) helicopter chartered by StatOil, the Norwegian oil major, carrying oil workers from the Gullfaks B platform in the North Sea, crashed near Turøy, a Norwegian coastal island 36 kilometres (22 mi) from the city of Bergen.
Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma
- Widely used in offshore oil and gas industry around the world
- More than 220 in service
- Can also be used in search and rescue and fire-fighting roles
- Carries 19 passengers plus two crew and can fly for up to five-and-a-half hours
- Safety features include self-deployable emergency flotation device, and traffic collision and avoidance system
Several witnesses observed the flight, stating that nothing was out of the ordinary until the sound suddenly changed and the helicopter started to sway. Moments later the main rotor of the helicopter detached, causing a sudden drop in speed and altitude, as confirmed by flight telemetry. With all control lost, it crashed on the islet of Skitholmen between the islands of Turøy and Toftøy at 11:54:35 local time and exploded on impact. Civil aviation data showed the helicopter had plummeted 2,100ft (640m) in just ten seconds.
Authorities confirmed that eleven of the people on board were Norwegian, with one British passenger and one Italian crew member. The eleven passengers were employees of six different companies: Halliburton (four employees); Aker Solutions (three); and one employee each of Statoil, Schlumberger, Welltec and Karsten Moholt. All 13 passengers and crew were later confirmed dead, on 2 May the names of all the crash victims were released.
Statoil later issued a statement saying it was temporarily grounding all EC225 helicopters, pending an inquiry and was suspending production at Gullfaks B to enable it to tend to affected staff as investigators revealed the crash was caused by a mechanical failure.
The tragedy also led to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) grounding all UK commercial passenger flights using the Airbus EC225LP – or Super Puma – model.
It has also sparked calls for the aircraft type to be permanently removed from service, with an online petition so far collecting more than 21,000 signatures.