You can crash a helicopter or you can make a controlled landing. The distinction was made clear by an Ec225 Super Puma pilot in the North Sea Thursday when oil pressure problems forced him to set his bird down in the drink.
The Bond Aviation Group pilot was making a routine run between an offshore oil rig and Aberdeen, Scotland when the malfunction occurred, more than 25 miles away from any place to land.
Offshore oil rig transportation is Bond's bread and butter, so everyone on board the chopper was geared up to the hilt, wearing full immersion survival suits to help them weather the North Sea's chilly water. The Puma was equipped with flotation bags in its wheel pods and nose, so crew and passengers were able to exit the aircraft quickly and board an inflatable life raft.
Sky News reported that nine of the 14 people on board were airlifted to a hospital and treated for minor injuries while the rest — unwilling to board another helo — hopped on a lifeboat and headed back to Aberdeen by water.
Bond Aviation's Stephen Bond stressed that the accident was a "controlled landing" and not a crash and the Coast Guard pointed out the pilot's skill. Last year another Bond helicopter crashed and killed 16 people on a similar route.