Passengers on a Cougar helicopter that was ferrying offshore workers to St. John’s suffered a nasty shock  last week, when the helicopter suffered serious problems and barely avoided a crash.

The helicopter had just taken off from the Sea Rose Floating Production, Storage and Offloading facility when it experienced a sudden increase in pitch.  This was followed quickly by a sharp decrease in altitude.  Fortunately, the crews of the helicopter were able to stabilize the aircraft.

According to officials with Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the crew on the helicopter performed a number of checks on the equipment, and only when they were satisfied with these checks, did they continue on their flight.  The helicopter has since been inspected and returned to service.  Cougar is conducting an investigation into the incident.

Offshore helicopter safety issues have been paramount in Canada, since the tragic helicopter crash off Newfoundland in 2009 that killed seventeen people.  The crewmembers were killed when their helicopter went down into the water as it was transferring workers to an offshore rig.  Since then, safety agencies in Canada have insisted that the offshore industry do more to ensure the safety of workers who travel in these helicopters.

Earlier this year, the offshore oil industry represented by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said that companies would no longer operate flights over rough and choppy seas.  Flights would be essentially grounded if the seas were more than 6m high.

Every week, dozens of flights are operated between shore and offshore oil rig and platform installations.  For the workers on these helicopters however, every journey is a risky one.

The maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent persons injured in boat collisions and families of victims of boat collisions.