Super Pumas: Can helicopters win over worried oil workers?


Super Pumas: Can helicopters win over worried oil workers?

Many workers have vowed never to travel in the helicopters again after fatal crashes.

Super Puma helicopters are no longer used in the North Sea and Norway following a series of fatal accidents and ditchings.

Their manufacturer, Airbus Helicopters, said it’s doing everything possible to learn lessons and ensure they are safe.

But many oil workers call them “flying coffins” and say they’ll never travel in them again.

STV News visited Airbus Helicopters’ HQ in Marseille, France, where the company employs more than 8000 workers on a massive sprawling site.

Around 20 Super Pumas are produced on the production line every year. Many have a military use; others a wide range of civilian services.

The oil and gas industry is important but it’s here that the Super Puma name has taken a massive knock.

A total of 33 offshore workers have died since 2009 following accidents off Peterhead, Sumburgh and Norway. There were also two ditchings. Apart from the Sumburgh incident, all involved the aircraft’s gearbox.

Since the Norway crash in 2016, the company has been engaged in a huge effort to identify what happened and make improvements.

“Each time there is an accident the workforce here is devastated”, says Michel Macia, head of Airbus’s Super Puma programme.

“We are questioning ourselves to try to improve and do as much as we can based on the knowledge that we have.”

Charm offensive: Colin Wight, left, at the Airbus HQ.
Charm offensive: Colin Wight, left, at the Airbus HQ. STV

Airbus showed us round its laboratory. Inside, dozens of people in white coats were looking through microscopes or making notes. The microscopes are powerful. They can magnify machine parts up to 200,000 times.

Airbus has introduced a number of measures which they hope will prevent a repeat of what happened.

Régis Magnac, head of customer operations, said the type of gear that broke in 2016 is now replaced in all Super Pumas and that generates less stress in the gearbox .

He claims there are more frequent inspections, five other improvements and he believes it’s safe.

“We have done everything possible,” he says. “Now it is up to the customers and the workforce to decide if they fly or not”.

But the North Sea workers are not convinced.

Tommy Campbell, chairman of the Offshore Co-Ordinating Group, says: “There’s no question Airbus are doing everything possible to make sure that their helicopters are safe.

“But the workforce have no confidence in it now. They are clearly saying to us that they don’t want to set foot in these helicopters ever again and we have to respect that mandate.”

Airbus clearly wants to salvage the Super Puma reputation in the North Sea.

Many of its helicopters such as the H175 are performing important work but the name Super Puma in Norway and Aberdeen is toxic.

On my way home, we bumped into an oil worker who was curious to know where we’ve been.

When we explained, he said the [currently used] Sikorsky’s are bigger.

“They’ve more room. Nothing’s wrong with them. Why do they want to bring the Pumas back?” he asked.

Airbus know it needs to persuade the doubters. But it’s convinced the Super Puma is now as safe as it can be and hopes one day that it will once again be seen in the skies above the North Sea




Join Unite the Union and Keep the North Sea Puma Free





Unite fights to protect jobs amid robotics revolution

https://www.energyvoice.comIMG_2122 (3)/oilandgas/north-sea/163899/unite-fights-protect-jobs-amid-robotics-revolution/

Unite fights to protect jobs amid robotics revolution

Written by  – 

The agreement is to protect workers rights amid a rise in automation

The UK’s largest offshore union has launched a campaign to protect workers jobs as the energy sector starts to rely more heavily on robotics.

Unite says a trend towards full automation poses a risk to the workforce, and has developed a strategy to identify new technologies which could threaten employment.

The union is now encouraging companies to sign up to its “new technology agreement” to ensure workers are fully involved as employers make changes that may lead to an increase in automation.

A rise in robotics has been noted in the industry recently, with DNV GL – a technical advisor to the sector – saying it expects oil and gas firms to implement fully autonomous drilling by 2025.

Meanwhile, energy giant Statoil hailed “the dawn of a new age of digitalisation” which Unite says has partly prompted its response.

The union says between 35% and 42% of jobs across all sectors of the UK economy are expected be lost as a result of automation.

Unite regional organiser Tommy Campbell said: “Offshore employers should engage with the workforce and their unions by signing up to a New Technology Agreement  to ensure any automation is introduced for the benefit of offshore  workers.

“It should not be used to undermine workers by threatening their job security .

“Automation should also assist in making dangerous jobs safer as well as less onerous and stressful.

“We should ensure that automation is for the benefit of workers to provide security of employment and improve their working lives. “

A DNV GL report in 2016 forecasted areas including drilling, pipeline inspection and rig-less plugging and abandonment to be in operation by 2025.

Bjørn Søgård, Segment director for Subsea and Floaters, said: “We are now about to enter a third stage characterized by a willingness to open up for radical new ideas that can reshape industry processes.

“We believe that in the longer horizon offshore production and processing systems are going down to the seabed as a cost effective and safe alternative for platforms and floaters.”

Unite new technology agreements and  the response to Automation  developed by Sharon Graham Executive Officer  and the National Organising & Leverage Department

sg Automation

Sharon Graham, Unite the Union, outlines the union’s response to Automation

Experts predict up to 35% of existing jobs could go under the impact of automation. Unions need to prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Unite the Union is starting this now.

If you are not yet a member of Unite  Can you afford not to Join?
Join The Offshore Trade Unionlineine today







Unite launches new online tools to fight for increased pay in 2018

Unite launches new online tools to fight for increased pay in 2018


National Organising & Leverage
January 2018
Work Voice Pay:
For more information please contact Unite Executive Officer Sharon Graham:


16 January 2018

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has armed its members with a powerful online weapon in the fight for increased pay and a fair share of company profits amid the worst pay stagnation since the Napoleonic Wars.

The retail prices index (RPI), was 4.1 per cent last month, up from 3.9 per cent in November.

Across the economy real wages have fallen 4.4 per cent between the end of 2007 and 2017, but company profits have grown from 11.4 per cent to 12.6 per cent over the same period.

Unite’s new online tool will mean that in just a few minutes union reps can arm themselves with the latest financial information and help prevent employers from claiming pay increases are not affordable.

At the click of a mouse the tool allows union reps to gather the latest up to date information from Companies House, the Office for National Statistics and the union’s own database containing the details of tens of thousands of pay deals.

The online tool then guides union reps through the potential workplace issues union members want raised as part of their pay negotiations, and within minutes the tool creates a professional and comprehensive pay and conditions claim including the most up to date information on their company’s financial performance, ability to pay, the latest economic indicators and pay deals at comparator companies by sector and postcode.

The Pay Claim Generator was designed as part of Unite’s industrial strategy entitled Work, Voice, Pay which is about empowering union members by giving them the tools and support in the workplace to help them win at work.

Sharon Graham Unite executive officer said: “Unite is working with members to ensure they have the best tools, information and representation to increase their pay and conditions. Unite’s Pay Claim Generator will help stop employers from claiming pay rises are not affordable where they clearly are.

“Over the last decade pay has shrunk while company profits are up and corporation tax is down. Workers deserve their fair share of the profits they created.

“Unite has secured some great pay deals at companies like Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Thomas Cook and Virgin because workers do better when they are in a union. Unite’s Work, Voice, Pay strategy is about working with members to help them win at work.”

Unite is a union that campaigns for and delivers better pay and conditions for its members. Unite is winning at work based on three core values. Secure Work: fighting for jobs and job security; Strong Voice: a union which is a respected voice at work; and Decent Pay: a union focused on pay and conditions.


For more information contact Ciaran Naidoo 07768 931 315

Or for more information about the Pay Claim Generator see the following guide.

Create a professional pay claim in minutes

If you are a Shop Steward or Rep negotiating with a UK registered company you can now construct your own bespoke pay claim online in less than 10 minutes!

Your claim will be complete with the latest pay, inflation and company profits data; sourced from filed accounts, the Office of National Statistics and our own pay bargaining data – collected from thousands of reps across the UK and Ireland.

Within a minute it will be fully laid out and ready-to-print.

Click here or push the button below to get started.

For a handy guide on using the Pay Claim Generator click here.

Pay button red




join unite 2

Unite membership offshore continues to grow Unite is the largest trade union for offshore workers in the North Sea UKCS




Keep the North Sea Super Puma free


n by  – 

 Unite regional officer Tommy Campbellcika314wkaapyvf

One of the great questions of 2017 for the trade union movement in Scotland has been “What is to become of the Super Puma 225 helicopter?” That question has been raised well beyond union circles because of Unite Scotland’s campaign against any return of the Puma to the North Sea for transferring workers from the heliports outside Aberdeen to the oil rigs. Our slogan of the year has become “No Comeback for the Super Puma. Keep the North Sea Puma Free.” So why the controversy about this aircraft?

Death is really the answer to that question. In April 2016, 13 people died after a Super Puma EC225 crashed west of the Norwegian city of Bergen. In effect operation of the Super Puma in the North Seas has been banned since then. The 2016 crash followed two crashes in 2012 in Scotland. Both crashes, which did not result in fatalities, were blamed on gear box problems. In 2009 all 14 passengers and two crew died when a Super Puma came down in the North Sea close to Peterhead. In total since the 2009 crash 33 families have lost loved ones who stepped aboard a Super Puma helicopter. Our members have made it absolutely clear that they have lost confidence in the helicopter. That confidence is not going to return – ever.

Even in-house surveys conducted by Airbus the manufacturers of the Super Puma back that up. In August 2017 Airbus published details of a workforce survey about the Super Puma. It revealed that 62% of those surveyed would not want to use the Super Puma. Ever. A further 15% said they would not be comfortable boarding one until more guarantees about safety changes had been delivered. So it is abundantly clear that even in Airbus surveys there is considerable opposition within the workforce about the Super Puma.

Unite has organised a petition opposing any return of the Super Puma and at the heliports workers have signed up in their thousands to show their opposition.  These figures, along with the Airbus Survey are significant about the feelings of those who have to get into a Super Puma to get to work.


To support the campaign sign Unites petition


Keep the North Sea Super Puma free


And despite the fact that the Super Puma has been given the all-clear by the UK civil aviation authorities there is also a growing recognition among the oil and gas companies that big questions still have to be answered. Unite’s Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, has written to all the oil companies in the North Sea about the Puma. One of the biggest concerns Apache told him: “We have recently commenced a contract with a helicopter company to support our operations in the North Sea until 2022. Our contracted helicopters are Sikorsky S92 and Westland AW189.”

That type of stand is being matched by other major companies. ConocoPhillips say they also are using alternatives to the H225. BP, Shell and Compass are on record as saying until the findings of the causes of the Norwegian 2016 crash are known there can be no consideration of using the Super Puma.

This unanimity of opposition seems to have even shaken Airbus. An Airbus spokesperson was recently quoted as saying: There are still some challenges Airbus Helicopters needs to overcome before the H225 is used for passenger transport in the North Sea. However, we believe in the aircraft and have implemented a set of very stringent measures which, in addition to the H225’s capabilities, provide a very capable alternative for future offshore requirements. Ultimately it is down to customers to decide which aircraft will best meet their needs, however, recent events highlight the benefit of not relying on a single type of aircraft.”

So given the past and where we are at present would you travel across the North Sea to your work in a Super Puma? Or would you be happy about a loved one doing the same?

Tommy Campbell is a trade union official with Unite Scotland




to get involved in the campaign to keep the north sea  puma free  contact Unite offshore

  • Unite will be meeting  again with the Scottish Parliament  transport minister  Humza Yousaf MSP early in 2018
  • Unite are calling for a full public inquiry into North Sea helicopter safety
  • Unite will be looking  to meet the Scottish affairs select committee to rais  the  issues again on North sea  helicopter safety with the UK government
  • Unite will be meeting  and campaigning  alongside Norwegian and offshore trade unions in the UKCS  for the non-return of the Airbus Super Puma 225  to commercial operations


join unite 2

Unite membership offshore continues to grow Unite is the largest trade union for offshore workers in the North Sea UKCS





Transport minister undecided on support for North Sea copters public inquiry


Written by  – 

Scottish transport minister Humza Yousafhumza-yousaf

Scotland’s transport minister is undecided on whether to support calls for an independent public inquiry into North Sea helicopter safety.

Humza Yousaf met a delegation of trade union representatives yesterday in Edinburgh to hear their fears about offshore transport safety.

Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said the meeting was “helpful and informative” and that Mr Yousaf had listened to workers’ concerns.

Mr Campbell said both sides intended to meet again in the New Year to “follow up on some of the points made”.



He added: “We are quite satisfied that the helicopter safety is being taken seriously by the Scottish Government.”

North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said the dialogue was still open, but that the Scottish Government had not yet made its position known.

Mr Macdonald said: “The Scottish Government has not dismissed the possibility of a public inquiry, but they haven’t got behind it yet either.

“They are happy to continue the dialogue.”

Ultimately, a public inquiry would require the backing of the UK Government, but unions are hopeful that support from the Scottish Government would strengthen their case.

Mr Macdonald added: “We want to convince the Scottish Government that the best way forward is to have an independent public inquiry.

“Then it can be about the whole sector, not just technical issues.”

Mr Macdonald tabled a member’s business motion to bring the debate into the Scottish Parliament in October.

Several MSPs backed calls from unions for an inquiry at the cross-party debate in Holyrood.

Mr Yousaf said at the time he was prepared to meet those who want an inquiry.

But he clarified that the lifting of flight restrictions was a matter for aviation regulators, not the Scottish Government.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The health and safety of oil and gas workers in the North Sea is of paramount importance to the Scottish Government and the transport minister had an informative and constructive meeting with union representatives, where he heard their views directly on helicopter safety.

“Whilst the regulation of aviation safety is a reserved matter for the UK Government, it’s important all stakeholders work together to ensure the workforce have confidence that every effort is being made to keep them safe when travelling to and from offshore facilities.”

More to follow.



Unite Back Home Safe Campaign 2017 #KeeptheNorthSeaPumaFree @ The Scottish Parliament – Tuesday 19th December


North Sea unions to meet with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf – Scottish Parliament – Tuesday 19th December;

Unite Scotlands Tommy Campbell will be available for interview after the meeting with the minister at around 1530.

Lewis Macdonald MSP lodged a Members motion opposing the return of the Super Puma 225  helicopter to fly workers from the heliports in the North Sea to the oil rigs in the sector. The motion was heard on 24th October.

Unite lobbied the Parliament on the same day. Here is a link to a short video of that event.

The Transport Minister Humza Yousaf replied to the debate and invited the trade unions to make submissions to him on the reasons why the the North Sea must stay Puma free.

Those submissions will be made by the trade unions on Tuesday 19th December 2017. Unites regional co-ordinating officer Tommy Campbell will lead the delegation.He will be available for media interview on Tuesday 19th at 1530.

Tommy Campbell said: We are determined that the North Sea should remain Puma free.

The only way the workers there can stop the return of the Puma is to join Unite,

or one of the other trade unions in the industry. 

A strongly unionised workforce means that the oil companies will recognise that any comeback for the Super Puma means a battle. To be fair many of the major oil companies and contractors have already told us that they have no intention of contracting with companies which want to use the Super Puma.

We want to persuade the minister that he should support that. No Comeback for the Super Puma Keep the North Sea Puma Free



Tommy Campbell / 07810 157920

Bob Wylie / Unite Comms / 07711 751570


Unite is the offshore union for offshore workers in the North Sea UKCS

Have a voice, take action and make change happen.

Join the union today!


North Sea Grinch employer Odfjell Drilling – workers facing more than 10% pay cuts with Christmas around corner




Workers facing pay cut with Christmas around corner

Written by  – 

Scores of north-east workers at an offshore drilling contractor are facing deep pay cuts with Christmas just around the corner.

Unite regional officer Willie Wallace said Odfjell Drilling was issuing the proposals to workers today as part of a consultation.

Mr Wallace said 180 employees were affected by what he described as a “considerable reduction in terms and conditions”.


Odfjell, which has a base in Altens, Aberdeen, said in a letter

to employees – seen by Energy Voice − that the amendments to terms and conditions were necessary to “align with the current market environment”.

Odfjell said whilst it had recently secured new contracts, market conditions meant costs needed to be reduced for it to remain competitive as the oil price remains unstable.

In October, Odfjell said it had clinched a deal to perform drilling and maintenance work on EnQuest’s Magnus platform in the UK North Sea.

The company said in June that its Aberdeen business would recruit another 100 people after it won a contract with Taqa to provide services on five North Sea platforms.

In 2014, it secured a four-year contract extension to provide platform drilling services with BP in the UK North Sea, taking the contract renewal date to December 2018.

According to the letter from operations manager Donald MacLeod, dated November 29, Odfjell wants bring all offshore employees’ terms and conditions in line with a set of standards which have been in place for new starts for about seven months.

A worker told Energy Voice the proposals involved the complete removal of health care and travel money, a 50% drop in sick pay and, in some cases, a 10% basic wage cut.

Mr Wallace said the basic wage cut would be “different for different people”.

He said the changes would be badly received by the workforce and were “unnecessary at this time”.

He added: “The workforce played its part previously in changing rotas and working extra shifts for no extra payment and are now saying, ‘enough is enough’.

“Unite awaits feedback from its members before meeting Odfjell again next week.”

Odfjell has been contacted for comment.


If you work for Odjfell and your not happy about the cuts it time to Join Unite and fight the cuts to your T&Cs – experienced workers does that equal pay cut?

What can you do?

What will you do?

Get active!  get organised! Join Unite  the Offshore  trade union

Next steps

  1.  If you are not already a member’s Join Unite
  2. Elect  new Unite Union reps
  3. Put in place Unite points of contact on each odjfell offshore asset  covering all and shifts rotas
  4. Join Unite and fight the cuts to your terms & Conditions

The wood group offshore unite members on shell assets were in a similar position as you in 2016   – What did they do?  to see what they did    they made history  the first offshore strike in  a generation by  growing their  union Unite, electing  union reps on all  shell assets and standing together  and fighting back against attacks against their Terms and Conditions of employment in their contracts

Click on the link: from 4 mins  30 sec



Unite is the offshore union for offshore workers in the North Sea UKCS

Have a voice, take action and make change happen.

Join the union today!