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Sun, Apr 12, 2009

Last Words Of Downed Super Puma Pilot Revealed

Bodies Of All 16 Persons Aboard Have Been Recovered

Asking that his identity be protected, a veteran oil industry pilot revealed the last communication heard from a helicopter that crashed into the North Sea earlier this month while transporting workers from an offshore oil rig back to the Scottish shore.

The pilot told the UK Telegraph that in an emergency situation, "normally the crew would say 'mayday, mayday, mayday' and then provide any other information they could, including their position, what had gone wrong, and any action they intended to take. In this case, all that was said was 'mayday, mayday, oh f - - -', then silence.

"Some pilots were actually in the air and heard the mayday from the helicopter just before it crashed," he said, adding that they were badly shaken up and asked to be relieved from flying duty for the remainder of the day.

As ANN reported, a Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma, operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters, ditched in the North Sea off Scotland on April 1 after a suspected mechanical failure. All 16 persons aboard were lost.

KCA Deutag drilling engineer Ian Morrison, 45, said he was asked to stay behind to work one extra shift, only 15 minutes before the ill-fated helicopter took off. "My name was at one point on that list and I feel extremely fortunate I was asked to stay. I remember thinking it would have been good to get back home, but for some reason I thought I would stay and do the extra work.

"When you realize how close to tragedy you have come, something like that, something I've done for almost 20 years, it does make you rethink things. Those guys were my crew and I should have been on that chopper as well.

"Morale on the platform has obviously been hit hard," Morrison said. "I think there is just a general feeling of devastation, and I think people realize how easily it could have been them."

After the tragedy, some 60 traumatized workers were granted early leave and left the BP Miller platform to be with their families, and counselors were flown out to meet with those who remained. As a result of the crash, some of the workers said they can't stomach the flights to and from the platforms anymore.

"I have the utmost admiration for people who have a fear of flying but still get on with it. There are many offshore workers who do not enjoy flying to and from platforms but they still do it, and deserve our respect for that," the unnamed pilot said.

14 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast, a search and recovery mission was performed by the salvage vessel Vigilant. Using divers and remotely operated underwater vehicles, the helicopter's fuselage was located in waters estimated at over 300 feet deep.

KCA Deutag COO Brian Taylor said, "All at KCA Deutag wish to send our thanks and appreciation to those involved in the successful operation to recover the remaining 8 bodies. It has been a traumatic 5 days for all at the Company, and we are relieved to know that the bodies of each of the 16 men have been recovered. We all hope that this will be some small comfort to the next of kin, relations, friends and colleagues of the deceased. They are in our thoughts."

FMI: www.kcadeutag, www.bondoffshorehelicopters


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