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Offshore Oil and Gas (Helicopter Safety)

Volume 584: debated on Thursday 10 July 2014

11. What recent assessment he has made of the safety of passengers in the offshore oil and gas helicopter transport system. (904763)

The Civil Aviation Authority published its review of offshore helicopter safety on 20 February this year. The United Kingdom has a good helicopter safety record, and there is no evidence to suggest that travelling to oil and gas installations by helicopter is any less safe than travelling by any other helicopter operated in the UK. However—like the hon. Gentleman, I am sure—I am pleased that the CAA review has proposed a number of recommendations for further examination of the overall safety for passengers in the offshore oil and gas helicopter transport system. I note that the oil and gas industry has accepted the recommendations. It is working closely with the CAA to implement them and introduce safety improvement measures, and the Department is carefully monitoring the effectiveness of the CAA and the industry in doing so.

I am sorry that the Minister did not mention the Transport Committee’s report on the serious problem of helicopter transport in the offshore industry, which was published on Tuesday this week. I hope that, when the Secretary of State sees the report, he will focus on the part that deals with the survivors of the last fatal crash in August last year, so that he can fully understand what the work force in the North sea have to put up with every day, and why those workers and their families support the demand for a full public inquiry into helicopter safety.

We have obviously seen the Select Committee’s report, and, as the hon. Gentleman will know, we are considering our response carefully. We will respond by 28 August, and we will certainly read and respond to the section about the impact on the lives of the survivors. As for the question of a full public inquiry, the CAA has conducted a thorough review and has made important recommendations. We need to give the organisations involved time to implement those recommendations, and we are making sure that they address the concerns of the industry.