An investigation into the events surrounding the helicopter crash which killed three North-East men has published its early findings.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) report concluded there were no signs of pre-impact malfunction of any major mechanical component on the helicopter that crashed 24 miles off Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, days after Christmas.
Among the seven dead were Keith Smith, 57, from Stockton, 48-year-old Leslie Ahmed, from South Shields and Alfred Neasham, 57, from Coxhoe, County Durham.
advertisementThey died when a Eurocopter AS365N crashed into the Irish Sea as it took the workers to a Centrica gas rig.
Mr Smith's body has never been recovered.
No analysis of the facts has been attempted and no safety recommendations are considered appropriate at this time, according to accident investigators.
A detailed investigation of the wreckage is continuing along with further analysis of the recorded data, including voice recordings of the pilot and co-pilot.
The report states: "A review of the recorded data has not indicated any problems of a technical nature and no helicopter manoeuvres have been identified which were not in response to flight control inputs."
It also states that during the later stages of the approach to the platform, the helicopter was seen to slowly pitch nose down and started a slow roll to the right.
The crew took evasive action, but decided to abort the first attempt to land and circle the platform before attempting a second landing.
However, workers on the oil platform saw the helicopter's troubled approach before losing sight of it and hearing it crash into the sea.
Emergency services were alerted and two rescue craft were at the scene of the accident within 12 minutes.
The search and rescue operation, which was carried out by the Liverpool Maritime Rescue Centre, located six of the bodies during the first search of the wreckage site.
However, dangerous weather conditions hampered the search for Mr Smith's body before a decision was made to call off the operation.
The flight data recorder was found on January 16.
A conclusive report will be published when the investigation is finished and the AAIB will also conduct a thorough assessment of the operational aspects of the incident.
© 2007 The Northern Echo