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UK Operators Ground Super Pumas

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The North Sea oil industry is scrambling for helicopters after operators voluntarily grounded all variants of Eurocopter Super Puma helicopters last Friday. Super Pumas carry about half the personnel and freight required to service oil rigs in the region. The helicopters were grounded after the crash of a CHC AS332L-2 variant of the twin-engine, single-rotor utility aircraft in the North Sea. Four people died in the crash, which various media report is the fifth fatal crash of the type in four years. "The industry met today to set in train appropriate actions to address the operational consequences of the current situation," Oil & Gas UK CEO Malcolm Webb said in a statement.  "The Super Puma helicopter fleet represents over 50 percent of the capacity in the North Sea. The immediate knock-on effects of this are delays and flight backlogs with considerable inconvenience to the workforce and their families, and potential adverse effects on offshore activities."

Meanwhile CHC has resumed flights of other variants of the Super Puma outside the UK on Monday, saying the other versions, the AS332L-1 and the EC225, are different from the type that crashed. There have been calls for the grounding of the aircraft previously and the weekend developments led to the creation of a Facebook page supporting that movement. The Destroy the Super Pumas page had 37,000 likes by late Tuesday.

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