A service of remembrance was held this weekend for the families of the 4 victims who tragically lost their lives in the Supa Puma helicopter crash. It was the first anniversary of the crash that occurred 2 miles off the coast of Shetland on 23 August 2013, killing 4 of the 18 crew, with the survivors being rescued by local fire and rescue services.
As well as having a devastating impact on the families, the crash had a significant impact upon the lives of Shetland's community as the helicopter came down in waters close to residential housing where residents witnessed, or were indeed involved in, providing local emergency assistance to the stricken craft. Following the crash, there have been calls for an independent inquiry into helicopter safety for off-shore gas and oil workers.
Following the Shetland crash, the UK's Transport Select Committee made around 70 recommendations to the Civil Aviation Authority to improve helicopter safety. It seems that the Emergency Breathing System (EBS) was not operated at the time of the crash owing to a fault in the safety video.
A dedication plaque was unveiled listing the names of those who died and a wreath was laid out at sea near the crash site whilst search and rescue helicopters conducted a fly past. It was therefore a time for remembrance, a service that must have been particularly poignant for the families of the deceased as well as their surviving colleagues. A short tribute to those who died was issued by the survivors of the accident: “We are grateful to have the chance to meet and thank the brave crew members who helped us. “The whole Shetland community rallied around us in a time of need and we would like to express our deep gratitude to so many people – coastguard, RNLI, hospital staff, police, workers at Sumburgh Airport, Red Cross – for everything.”