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Union safety call after sea crash
A diver works on the wreckage of the Super Puma L2 helicopter which went down about two miles west of Sumburgh airport on Shetland
Relatives of people killed as a result of offshore safety failings will join union leaders in calling for improvements in the wake of a helicopter crash that claimed four lives.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has organised a rally in Aberdeen amid growing concern about safety offshore.
The union had planned to protest near the heliport of CHC, the operator of the Super Puma helicopter that came down off the southern tip of Shetland on Friday night. The protest at Aberdeen Airport was called off in favour of a city centre rally after the union said Oil and Gas UK had met its demand for guaranteed access to workers on platforms and at heliports.
General secretary Bob Crow said the agreement would give offshore workers a platform to express their concerns after the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.
"Following talks with the employers we have secured a massive breakthrough on our core demand of workplace access which will enable us to build an organisation that can fight for real collective improvements to offshore working conditions including on the central issue of safety," he said. "We will rally at our new Aberdeen HQ to start that fight for a new and safer future for the whole industry."
Mr Crow, who will attend the rally with Norwegian colleagues, said the event would let people offshore know that everything possible is being done to secure their safety. The rally will be staged outside the union's headquarters in Crown Street.
Investigators have been using specialist sonar equipment to search for the helicopter's black box data recorder, which it is hoped will shed some light on the cause of the fatal crash.
There were 16 passengers and two crew on the Super Puma AS332 L2 travelling from the Borgsten Dolphin support vessel when it plunged into the sea, killing three men and one woman. The victims were named as Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham; George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire; Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray; and 59-year-old Gary McCrossan, from Inverness.
Three of the bodies from the crash arrived in Aberdeen by ferry on Monday morning and the fourth reached the city, also by ferry, on Tuesday.
CHC has temporarily suspended all flights of the three types of Super Puma helicopter that it operates - the L, L2 and EC225. Fellow operators Bond Offshore Helicopters and Bristow also enforced a temporary suspension of all Super Puma flights except emergency rescue missions. It follows a recommendation by the offshore industry's Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) which urged the precautionary measure until there is ''sufficient factual information'' to resume flights. The group are set to meet again.