Sumburgh helicopter crash fatal accident inquiry to start next week

A fatal accident inquiry into a North Sea helicopter crash that killed four people is ready to proceed next week, a court has heard.

The Super Puma was carrying 18 people when it ditched on its approach to Sumburgh, Shetland, in 2013.

Four people died, while 12 passengers and two crew survived.

The fatal accident inquiry (FAI) had been scheduled for May but was adjourned due to the coronavirus pandemic and will now begin on August 31, with the proceedings held virtually.

Shetland helicopter crash
Shetland helicopter crash

At a preliminary hearing held virtually on Monday, Martin Richardson QC said the Crown is prepared for the start of the inquiry next week.

Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray; Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness; Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire, died in the incident.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report, published in 2016, found the pilots failed to properly monitor the flight instruments and failed to notice their airspeed was decreasing until it was too late to avoid the Super Puma plunging into the sea off Shetland.

No mechanical fault was discovered with the helicopter, which was returning from the Borgsten Dolphin support vessel to Sumburgh Airport.

Of the four oil workers who died, two failed to escape from the upturned fuselage and one was found floating on the surface of the water.

A fourth passenger did make their way on to a life raft before they died.

AAIB representatives and survivors of the helicopter crash are among those expected to give evidence during the inquiry.

Derek Pyle, sheriff principal of Grampian, Highland and Islands, said previously that he decided the inquiry into the crash seven years ago will be held virtually so no further time is lost.