Friday, January 2, 2015

North Sea helicopter struck by lightning while on its way to oil platform

A helicopter had to return to land after it was hit by lightning while on its way to a North Sea oil platform.

The Bond-operated EC225 was carrying 11 passengers and two crew when the incident happened off the coast of Aberdeen.

A spokesman for the company yesterday confirmed the helicopter returned to the city’s airport after being struck on Saturday morning.

They didn’t release details of which rig the chopper was travelling to.

The helicopter has been taken out of service to allow engineers to examine it for any damage.

A helicopter travelling to the Brae Alpha oil rig ditched in the North Sea on January 19, 1995, after it was struck by lightning that caused severe damage to the tail rotor.

Everyone on board the Bristow flight, which was carrying 16 oil workers from Aberdeen, was rescued.

Air accident investigators also ruled that a lightning strike was a factor in a North Sea helicopter tragedy off the coast of Norwich on July 16, 2002.

All nine people on board the Bristow-operated Sikorsky S-76A died.

Research carried out by the Met Office last year revealed that helicopters could trigger lightning strikes.

Experts believe this happens when the aircraft acquire a negative charge during flight and fly close to a positively charged cloud.

The study showed these incidents are usually reported over the North Sea between October and the end of March.

Pilots involved in past incidents told researchers they had no prior weather warnings for the area where their helicopters got hit.

This led them to believe that choppers themselves trigger lightning.

Improvements in aircraft design mean all helicopters are expected to survive lightning strikes these days, according to experts.

- Original article can be found at: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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