OSLO, February 9. /TASS/. The next stage of the probe into the crash of a Russian Mi-8 helicopter that occurred in the sea off Norway’s Spitsbergen island last October will be a trip by members of the Accident Investigation Board Norway to Russia, Hans Herdahl, Inspector of Accidents at the board’s Aviation Department, informed TASS.
"The next step now is to visit the helicopter airline company in Russia [Convers Avia], the design bureau in Moscow and also meet Russian aviation authorities," he said. "The agenda for the meetings is being set up in cooperation with Russian accident investigation board. They will join us in these meetings and we will have conversations with those three parties together. Since we haven't found out any issues with the helicopter itself at this stage, it is necessary for us to look other ways like operational issues causing the accident for example."
Herdahl noted though it was too early to talk about specific versions yet and about what might be revealed during the board’s work in Russia. He stressed that the "investigation of the helicopter itself did not reveal anything that might have caused the accident."
"We haven't got any suspicions yet [regarding the causes for the disaster], and, of course, it is very regrettable that the flight data recorder was destroyed," he added.
According to Herdahl, specific dates for the visit have not been determined yet. However, the issue at hand could be the beginning of March. Deputy Director of Convers Avia Dmitry Zhelyazkov earlier told TASS that Norwegian experts would visit the city of Tver northwest of Moscow where the airline is based in February.
A Mil Mi-8 helicopter of the Convers Avia airline, carrying eight people, went missing while on its way from the mothballed community of Pyramiden to Barentsburg on October 26. There were five crew members and three employees of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute on board. A search and rescue operation, which involved more than 400 Russian rescue workers, was launched. On October 29, the helicopter was found on the seabed two kilometers east of Cape Heer at a depth of nearly 210 meters. On October 30, the body of one of the victims was found 130 meters away from the crash site.