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The rejection of an inquiry into helicopter safety is a missed opportunity

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After 50 deaths in 14 offshore helicopter accidents since 2009, a public inquiry would have been an important move to help reverse the tragic trends developed over recent years.


The UK Parliament’s Transport Select Committee recently published the responses of the government, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the oil and gas industry to its report regarding offshore helicopter flight safety.

Despite the original report in July recommending a public inquiry into the issue, the government ultimately decided to reject the calls – stating that the industry needs time to implement the recommendations from the CAA’s own offshore review. This is undoubtedly a missed opportunity to take decisive action on an incredibly important safety issue.

Sadly, there has been a series of helicopter accidents in UK airspace since 2009, with 14 of the accidents resulting in over 50 deaths. As these tragic events also involve onshore incidents, including the Clutha bar disaster in Glasgow in November 2013, we have long believed that a public inquiry should examine helicopter safety in its entirety.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist aviation law team has vast experience in representing the victims and families of those affected by helicopter crashes in the UK and abroad, including those affected by two offshore incidents in October 2012 and August last year.

Our concerns led us to write to both the UK and Scottish governments earlier this year calling for a public inquiry, as well as for changes to aviation regulations which would require black-box recording equipment to be fitted to all commercial passenger-carrying helicopters operating in UK airspace.

When we heard the Transport Select Committee’s backing for the inquiry, we hoped that the recommendation would be acted upon and the scope also broadened to address the wider concerns. As result, it is very frustrating that the government has not agreed a comprehensive and transparent public inquiry.

Such a step would have been an important move to help reverse the tragic trends which have developed over recent years and restore public confidence.

Jim Morris is partner at Irwin Mitchell's aviation law team

- See more at: https://old-sm.britsafe.org/rejection-inquiry-helicopter-safety-missed-opportunity#sthash.LHcNtatK.dpuf

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