THE operators of a Super Puma which crashed into the North Sea passed UK aviation safety inspections before and after the disaster, an inquiry has heard.

The ASS32-L2 was one of a fleet of Bond helicopters transporting oil and gas workers to offshore platforms when it crashed off Peterhead in 2009, killing the two pilots and 14 rig workers, who were travelling home from the BP Miller platform.

Yesterday the head of flight operations at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said several inspections were carried out at Bond in the months before the tragedy.

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No safety significant problems were detected that would have required immediate action and the suspension of the operator's licence.

Captain Robert Jones, 63, told the fatal accident inquiry aircraft operators were continually inspected by the CAA to make sure flight operations were safe.

Air Operators Certificates (AOCs) are issued if companies meet all the requirements, allowing them to carry out commercial air transport operations.

Mr Jones said the CAA carried out an annual audit at Bond a few weeks after the crash which happened a few weeks after another Super Puma ditched in the North Sea. He said: "If we hadn't been satisfied we would have suspended the AOC."

The inquiry continues.