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A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter hovering

FILE PHOTO: A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter. Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0/Ronnie Robertson

Norway May Ground Sikorsky Helicopters After North Sea Crash

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February 29, 2024

OSLO, Feb 29 (Reuters) – Norway on Thursday halted all helicopter traffic to its offshore oil and gas fields after a deadly crash, and said it was considering grounding Sikorsky’s S-92A aircraft model while investigating the accident.

A woman in her 60s died and five people were injured when the helicopter plunged into the ocean off western Norway on Wednesday while on a search-and-rescue training mission, police and oil company officials said.

One of the surviving crew members was in critical condition on Thursday and another was severely injured while the remaining three suffered lighter injuries, the hospital treating them said in an update on social media platform X.

Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was considering whether to order a grounding of the S-92A, the workhorse of the Nordic country’s oil industry, which flies almost all workers to and from oilfields.

“This has a high priority for us,” the CAA said in a statement. It did not say when a decision would be made.

Oil firms Equinor, Aker BP and ConocoPhillips said they had halted all helicopter traffic offshore Norway.

Equinor, Norway’s largest oil and gas producer, said it would review the situation by 1700 GMT.

The six crew members were all hoisted from the sea by rescue workers, but one was later declared dead in hospital, police said in a statement.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

“We have sent crash inspectors to Stavanger and Bergen to investigate the accident,” Safety Investigation Authority head William Bertheussen told Reuters.

The two cities are the busiest hubs for Norway’s extensive oil and gas industry, which produces around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Bristow Group, which operated the helicopter, said in a statement it was fully cooperating with authorities responding to the incident, and that the company was in the process of collecting relevant information.

Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky, which manufactured the helicopter, said in a statement that safety was its top priority and that it stood ready to support the investigation.

Equinor said the helicopter that went down was a search-and-rescue aircraft normally serving platforms at the company’s Oseberg oil and gas field in the North Sea.

“We have confidence both in the type of helicopter and in the operators,” Equinor CEO Anders Opedal told public broadcaster NRK.

Still, Equinor suspended all regular helicopter flights to its oil and gas platforms in Norway out of consideration for those affected and to get an overview of the situation.

Aker BP said its flights were halted “until further notice.”

“We will continuously assess how this incident affects our flight program and operations,” Aker BP said in a statement.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo and Stine Jacobsen and Louise Rasmussen in Copenhagen; editing by Kim Coghill, Toby Chopra, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Mark Heinrich)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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