A Richmond-based helicopter company has grounded a number of its aircraft worldwide after a fatal crash of one of its aircraft into water four kilometres off the coast of Shetland Island in the U.K. Four people died and 14 others, including passengers and crew members, were injured when the helicopter, en route to the island community of Sumburgh, went down without warning on Friday evening.
The helicopter had travelled from Aberdeen to two North Sea oil and gas rigs before heading to Sumburgh airport. Contact with air traffic control was lost at 6:20 p.m. local time.
"The thoughts and prayers of all CHC people are with victims of the incident and their loved ones," said a statement on the company's website.
CHC Helicopter, based at YVR's south terminal, has a fleet of 250 aircraft, making it one of the world's largest. It is the largest in the world that specializes in serving the offshore oil and gas industry, but also provides helicopters for search and rescue in several countries, and helicopter maintenance services.
The crash prompted a huge emergency-response effort -including the diversion of a nearby ferry -that resulted in the rescue of 14 of the 18 people on board, including the two flight crew.
CHC confirmed the incident involved one of its Eurocopter Super Puma aircraft, a troubleplagued line of helicopters that has been involved in four previous accidents in the North Sea since 2009.
"We do not know the cause of the incident," The CHC statement said.
"A full investigation will be carried out in conjunction with the U.K. Air Accident Investigation Branch. As a precaution, we are temporarily suspending all of our Super Puma L2 flights worldwide."
While the company has 36 of the Super Puma AS line -operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Norway and the U.K. - it was not clear how many are the L2 model.
A number of other companies in Britain have grounded their helicopters of the same Super Puma variant. Three men and one woman, all from the U.K., were killed. The survivors were taken to an area hospital, where many were treated for exposure.
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