Middlesbrough man who survived Super Puma ditch welcomes accident report

Darlington and Stockton Times: A Super Puma A Super Puma

A N OIL worker has revealed he still suffers from psychological trauma almost two years after the helicopter he was travelling went down in the North Sea.

Jonathan Garcia, 34, of Middlesbrough, spoke on the day a comprehensive accident report was released into how the Super Puma - with 19 people aboard - had to ditch in October 2012

There have been two other incidents involving Super Pumas recently, including the crash into the Clutha pub in Glasgow which killed ten last November. Four also died in a crash off Shetland last August.

Mr Garcia was being transported from Aberdeen to a drilling rig when it landed in the water 32 miles off Sumburgh Head in Shetland. All those aboard survived.

Welcoming the 186-page Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report, which said problems in the gearbox caused the crash, he said the accident had caused him psychological trauma.

“It has been a long wait for answers regarding the incident but, if any good is to come of it, it will be that steps are taken to improve offshore helicopter safety in the long term.

"Barely a day goes by when I do not think of the ditching and it was incredibly traumatic. However, if any good can come of it, it is that aviation authorities and helicopter operators take these steps to prevent anyone else going through what I faced."

The accident report has concluded that the helicopter lost main rotor gearbox oil pressure due to a failure of the gear shaft that drives the oil pumps.

Mr Garcia and the others involved in the ditching are represented by Irwin Mitchell law firm, who are also representing victims of the Clutha crash.

Jim Morris, a former RAF Boeing pilot and partner in the Irwin Mitchell law team, said: “This chain of serious issues that contributed to the ditching is very concerning. Ultimately the ditching should never have happened. Fortunately everyone survived but the passengers involved have suffered physical and serious psychological injuries as a result.

“There has been a worrying number of aviation incidents involving Super Puma helicopters in recent years and we know from working on behalf of victims that the demand for change and flight safety improvements is high. It is vital that the aviation industry learns from these incidents."

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