THE widow of an oil worker who died when a helicopter crashed near Shetland last year has said she is deeply disappointed after ministers rejected calls for an independent public inquiry into industry safety.

Julia Allison, whose husband George was a safety training specialist with 27 years' experience in the oil and gas industry, said he had often expressed concerns to her about the hazards of helicopter transport.

Mr Allison, 57, was among four people killed when a Super Puma ditched in the North Sea two miles west of Sumburgh Airport in August 2013.

The Transport Select Committee (TSC) demanded a full and independent public inquiry earlier this year in the wake of the tragedy "to investigate commercial pressures on helicopter safety in the North Sea operating environment". Pilots' union Balpa had highlighted this as a potential problem.

However, the UK Government has now ruled out the move. In its response to the TSC, published yesterday, the Department for Transport states: "Neither the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), industry nor Government has seen any evidence to suggest safety is being compromised as a result of commercial pressure.

"Competition for contracts, particularly where contracts are offered at short notice or awarded at a lower price, may impact on the ability of the operator to recruit and train for a new commitment, but there is no evidence to suggest this is the case."

Mrs Allison said there remained "fundamental problems" with the UK offshore industry. She added: "I am disappointed the Secretary of State [for Transport Patrick McLoughlin] has refused to order an inquiry. I recognise the industry is facing up to some of its difficulties but I believe that until there has been an examination of all aspects of the industry then it will struggle to win the confidence of the offshore workforce."

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said the union was "extremely disappointed". He added: "There is clearly a difference of opinion between pilots operating in the North Sea and the oil and gas industry as to whether commercial pressure in the awarding of contracts has a bearing on safety. We will continue to press for a full public inquiry."

The Sumburgh tragedy was the fifth helicopter accident involving the transfer of oil and gas workers in the North Sea since 2009, and came four years after another Super Puma crash which claimed the lives of all 16 on board.

Investigators said there was no evidence of a technical fault with the aircraft and blamed pilot error in an initial report, though the inquiry continues.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, said the refusal to hold an inquiry gives a "negative signal" to offshore workers and that he was "appalled the Government has refused to hold the full independent and public inquiry into helicopter safety".

The Sumburgh crash sparked comparisons with Norway, which has not had a fatal offshore helicopter ditching since 1997. However, a review by industry regulator, the CAA, concluded the UK and Norwegian safety regimes were on a par. Nevertheless, the CAA ordered a raft of tough new measures to curb risks.

Frank Doran, MP for Aberdeen North, said he was requesting a meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss the matter. He said: "There are fundamental issues which have not been dealt with, not the least of which is the way the offshore helicopter transport industry has been regulated over the past 40 years."

Andrew Haines, CAA chief executive, said safety was its priority and improvements were coming into force shortly.