Unite disputes 'human error' tag in Sikorsky a...

Unite disputes 'human error' tag in Sikorsky accident report

23 March 2018

Unite Scotland disputes ‘human error’ tag in Sikorsky Report and media coverage. 

Union argues that the cut-throat profit motives in the North Sea are a major issue.

Unite Scotland on the Accident Report on Sikorsky S-92A accident at West Franklin in December 2016. 

The report identifies that on 27 December 2016 yawing of the helicopter occurred on landing and that an anomaly in the helicopter gear box was identified. “Routine maintenance” was carried out and “the helicopter was released to service without further investigation”. The report establishes that the problems with the yawing on landing increased considerably the following day – 28 December – on landing and take-off at the Elgin platform in the North Sea.  And  then to the point of endangering life subsequently on landing at the West Franklin platform. The report states: “a.bearing had degraded and failed” - which affected the operation of the tail rotor.

There is an implication in the findings that ‘human error’ in the judgements of the engineer undertaking the maintenance on the 27th was a major issue. 

Unite Scotland’s Tommy Campbell says: “The facts in this report are truly staggering. They reveal that the accident at West Franklin could have resulted in yet another fatal accident in the North Sea but for the skills of the helicopter pilot in landing the aircraft. The origin of what happened here is not about human error. In reality it’s about  the commercial pressures for profit in the North Sea. That, like on this occasion, can make helicopter companies take Russian roulette chances with maintenance over the priority of the life and limbs of the workers it transports.”

Unite Scotland on the issues

Unite has now campaigned for years on the issues of the safety of the Super Puma 225 following 13 fatalities in recent years. This latest incident with the Sikorsky-92A increases our concerns.

Tommy Campbell added: “In this case the operators have issued the usual apologies and claims that ‘their priority is  for the safety of everyone we carry.’ The realities of the cut-throat profit motives of the North Sea contradict that. We need a major UK public inquiry into helicopter safety in the North Sea. Otherwise we will stand condemned when the next fatal accident occurs.”