Helicopter Ditches In Sea Near Aberdeen

All 14 people on board a helicopter that ditched into the North Sea off Aberdeen are safe, authorities have said.

The helicopter, an EC225 Super Puma, was on its way to the Jasmine Conoco oil field from Aberdeen.

Stephen Bond, from Bond Aviation Group , said an oil pressure warning light came on in the aircraft, so the pilot began a "controlled descent" around midday.

The company said all flights using EC225 Super Pumas would be suspended for safety reasons.

Asked at a press conference whether he felt the company had been transparent enough about its safety record - Bond has reportedly been criticised by unions for not being open enough after previous incidents - a spokesman said the company had acted with "complete transparency".

Two search and rescue helicopters operated by Bond winched most of the 12 passengers and two crew members to safety from their life raft.

Some passengers were not willing to get back into a helicopter, so were rescued by boat.

Nine men were flown to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary - while the remaining five were taken to Aberdeen by lifeboat.

Consultant James Ferguson said: "All nine men admitted to the accident and emergency department this afternoon are in good spirits and eight have been discharged.

"One patient has been kept in for observation as a precaution.

"We understand the remaining five on the lifeboat which arrived at Aberdeen Harbour have already been assessed and are not expected at A&E."

Speaking at a press conference, a spokesman for Bond said he thought all the men had now been discharged.

Coastguard Susan Todd said the aircraft - an EC225 Super Puma - was forced down 26 miles east-southeast of Aberdeen.

The coastguard said three search and rescue helicopters went to the scene, along with two lifeboats.

The Bond spokesman added: "We shouldn't underestimate the skill of the pilot and co-pilot in landing on the water."

The helicopter is understood to support North Sea oil and gas rigs.

It is the latest in a series of incidents involving helicopters in the North Sea.

In April 2009, 16 people died after a Bond Super Puma crashed 14 miles off the coast of Aberdeen.

In February 2009, 18 people survived after a helicopter ditched in the North Sea.

The Bond Offshore Super Puma helicopter went down 125 miles east of Aberdeen.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Incidents such as these remain very rare but do serve as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by those offshore workers who are required to use helicopters on a regular basis."

But RMT union general secretary Bob Crow said the incident "shines the spotlight yet again on the issue of safety in our offshore industry".

He added: "RMT's offshore branch will play a full role in the investigation which once again involves Bond Helicopters, the owners of the craft that crashed in April 2009 with the loss of 16 lives."