On Tuesday, Nov. 29, I, along with NDP Transport critic Olivia Chow, raised questions in the House of Commons regarding Cougar Flight 491. Survivor Robert Decker has raised questions about why the helicopter was certified to fly in the first place, and why Sikorskys continue to fly.
Cleary (St. John’s South-Mount Pearl):
Mr. Speaker, 17 people died on March 12, 2009, when Cougar flight 491 went down after loss of oil pressure. Less than a year before, the same thing happened to an Australian helicopter, but Transport Canada failed to take action.
After the Newfoundland tragedy, the Transportation Safety Board recommended that all Cougars must be able to run dry for 30 minutes, but the Sikorsky still fails the test.
Mr. Speaker, why are we giving the Cougars a free pass at the risk of the lives of offshore workers?
Response from Transport Minister Denis Lebel:
Mr. Speaker, this was a very tragic accident. My thoughts are with the victims and their families.
My department continues to work toward addressing the recommendations of the Transportation Safety Board. We will also continue working with our international partners to develop a co-ordinated approach that would help prevent these accidents from occurring in the future.
Mr. Speaker, families of the victims who died in a Cougar helicopter crash off Newfoundland want to know why the faulty Cougar gearbox was certified.
The minister will not answer. The sole survivor of the crash wants to make sure all helicopters in the air now can run dry for 30 minutes. The Transportation Safety Board agrees with that recommendation.
Why does the minister continue to allow these faulty, unsafe helicopters in the air? Why is the minister ignoring the safety of Canadians?
Mr. Speaker, the safety of the public is very important to us. We do not use these events to play politics. This is a very tragic accident. Our condolences go out to the victims and their families. I can confirm that Transport Canada has received notification that the litigation against it relating to this accident has been discontinued.