UK politicians have revealed the frame of reference for their inquiry into the safety of offshore helicopter transportation, launched in the wake of the fatal 23 August crash of a Eurocopter AS332L2 off the Shetland Isles, Scotland.

Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, says the probe was launched due to mounting safety concerns. She says: "In August four oil workers were killed in a helicopter crash off the Shetland Isles. This was the fifth accident in four years, and the second of which that has tragically resulted in fatalities. The frequency of these accidents is a major cause for concern.

“Our inquiry will examine ways to minimise the risk to offshore workers. To this end we hope to hear from workers themselves, oil and gas firms, helicopter manufacturers, operators and pilots."

The Committee will examine five key areas: the safety of offshore flights; how the UK's safety record compares with that of other countries; what improvements could be made by the industry; whether legislation and regulations could be tightened; and the effectiveness of existing regulators, including EASA, in ensuring safety improvements are implemented.

Written submissions are due by 6 December, with hearings to follow at a later date.

The parliamentary probe is one of four separate investigations into the broad issue of offshore rotorcraft safety, with the helicopter operators, oil industry body Step Change in Safety, and the UK and Norwegian Civil Aviation Authorities carrying out separate but overlapping inquiries.

Ellman says she is keen that some of those feed into its study. She says: "We welcome the CAA’s investigation into helicopter safety that they are running with their Norwegian counterparts. We intend to hear evidence on their findings when they report and examine how their recommendations should be implemented."