Push to resume night flights off Newfoundland worries oil workers: union

The Canadian Press
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The union for most oil workers off Newfoundland is raising concerns about a push to resume scheduled night flights to remote offshore sites.

Brian Murphy, head of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union for Terra Nova and Hibernia workers, says night flights were restricted in 2010 for good reason.

An inquiry into a deadly helicopter crash off Newfoundland in 2009 heard that the survival rate for a ditching at night falls to about 40 per cent.

That’s 30-per-cent lower than in daylight hours, but oil companies say night flights are sometimes required in the darkest months to avoid backlogs.

Murphy says workers were told offshore regulators are expected to decide by the end of the year whether to resume night flights.

He says the union is pleased with recent search and rescue improvements, but flying after dark is too risky.

Operators of the three major offshore sites could not immediately be reached for comment.



Organizations: Paperworkers union, Hibernia

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Terra Nova

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Recent comments

  • Concerned
    September 19, 2012 - 08:48

    I can't believe what I am reading. You will not be given a choice of flying at night or the next day. They will give you one option and one option only, when the chopper is coming you will be told to get on it. No choice. You are giving the company the upper hand. The union does not speak for all offshore workers only the workers that are in the union. So, why don't you non-union people set up your own committee and see what the general concensus is. Instead of mouthing off that you want night flights. You are speaking up for yourselves only, the union is speaking up for everybody in the union and thenselves. The all know the risk involved in flying offshore. The fact is if something is more dangerous, you just don't do it. If you were told to do a job on the rig that was more dangerous you would step back and look at it and probably not do it. So why would you fly at night if you don't have too. We all want to get home to our families and get home safe. If that means staying another night on the rig then so be it.

  • local member offshore
    September 08, 2012 - 05:50

    Glad you brought up the other parts of the world . Norway has the largest share of the north sea. it is also the most unionized sector in the world and the safest i might add with the best benefits and wages in the offshore world and oil/gas industry period. those guys work 2 on 4 off and 2 on 3 off. result is more people have good paying jobs and their retension of quality employees is not compremised. brazil and gulf of mexico on the other hand have the worst safety records of any of the major offshore fields ? so compare all you like . some one has to ask the hard questions of gov't , regulators and companies. in this case it's the local 21-21

  • offshore family man
    September 07, 2012 - 11:34

    Alex Fowler You deserve better for sure, and there are things in place that could make it better for you and all co workers offshore, that includes you! you deserve better then you are getting and should have all the information about saftey! just look at the stats read about what happenes in the rest of the world, when other choppers fly else where they have a lot of places to land but not here. its not about money but you deserve more, we fought for that and still fighting its about getting home to your loved ones. I applaude you for still working out here with what you get, i did also and then the union help me have a better life, I hope someday you will see what i am talking about, this is about flying safely and at night its not as afe as flying in the day, and its better to be as safe as possible. take care

  • offshore family man
    September 07, 2012 - 09:50

    To offshore worker!! I have the feeling that you are not an offshore worker, but if you are you have no understanding on how this union works offshore, Before you or I started working offshore and i have been out here 14 years, it was the union that have been pushing for your right to be safe offshore and the history shows it. it is our right as a union to make sure you are safe because the Majority of offshore workers do not hide and make stabs in the backs of people that work very hard for you to be safe I will work very hard to help hold the oil company's to keep saftey in mind and the workers and that includes you. and how you travell to work, as for me I want to get back to see MY Beautiful family. come talk to your member and we can help you understand a little better on what this really means! all i can say is good luck to you and we are here to help !

  • Axel fowler
    September 07, 2012 - 09:41

    Bring on the night flights people not working on the terra nova, sea rose or Hibernia do not get the big money those workers get when they get stuck on the rig just an extra days pay that's why people on the other installations want night flights

  • Offshore Worker
    September 06, 2012 - 17:18

    I wish the unions would stop speaking for the rest of the offshore workforce!! It doesnt matter if you fly at day or night there is an equal risk involved. We who work offshore know the risks with working out here and one of the main risks is helicopter transport, its part of the job! If you dont like it then dont work offshore! They should resume night flights but give workers the option to get on, or wait for another helicopter during daylight hours. Unions cause more problems then they solve!!!!!

    • Local member offshore
      September 07, 2012 - 08:07

      The union speaks for the majority of offshore workers and dose not do so with out a mandate from membership. with out the union's involvement in these issues the workers would have no say. just the company "yes" man . maybe you could apply for that job. we all know the risks of flying offshore to say go some where else .is just simply child like and indicative of some one who has a narrow view point.some thing tells me you were'nt around when offshore workers were giving multi billion dollar companies 10 free fog days before any form of compensation / pay for hours worked was given. i guess the fact that people who've been working 3on 3 off for last ten years with contractor companies with lil or no benefits being called part-time or casual is ok with you too. we need to advance the benefits and safety of all who work offshore. if you believe that the company will take care of your best interest with out someone to hold them accountable your a dreamer. we all make a good living offshore and the companies prosper as well. holding their feet to the fire on issues of safety and workers rights is the unions responsibility to those it represents. that choice you mentioned of being able to refuse and stay behind if you wanted to. you think you'd have that at all? if the union wasn't representing the majority offshore? again dreamer.

    • Oilfield worker
      September 07, 2012 - 08:22

      Offshore Worker, you are absoultly right . Unions do cause more problems than they solve. Night flying is no different than daylight flying except for visibility part. Night flights are conducted offshore in other parts of the world. I believe a lot of these issues are due to the fact that a lot of these complaining individuals have not worked else where in the world before, and don't realize that there are other acceptable ways of doing business in a safe manner. If an individual doesn't want to fly after dark, then give them the option of going on the next daytime flight, end of subject......

  • William Daniels
    September 06, 2012 - 16:13

    Bring on the independent regulator. I've seen Cougar choppers flying after dark from my house in St. John's. Not sure whether they are flying in from offshore or some kind of practicing. But seen them flying well after dark.