North Sea crash helicopter-type is cleared to fly again

A Super Puma 225
A Super Puma 225

The type of helicopter in which 13 people died after it crashed off Norway in April 2016 has been cleared to resume flying by the UK Civil Aviation Authority – provided it meets new safety conditions.

The CAA said that Super Puma 225 helicopters would not begin flying immediately. A plan of checks, modifications and inspections will be undertaken before any flights take place. These include:

  • Change in the design by removal of the components that were susceptible to premature deterioration
  • Earlier replacement of component
  • Design change to introduce an improved maintenance inspection method to detect any deterioration at an early stage
  • More frequent inspections
  • Reduction in the thresholds for rejecting components based upon early signs of any deterioration

However, trade unions and many offshore workers remain concerned about safety and are reluctant to travel in this type of aircraft.

Les Linklater, Executive Director of Step Change in Safety, said: “We note that civil aviation authorities in the UK and Norway have set out plans to lift the operating restrictions currently in place on the H225LP and AS332L2 Airbus helicopters.

“It is extremely important to point out that this will not mean an immediate return to service. 

“Moreover, it will be up to the oil and gas companies and helicopter operators to decide if they wish to consider the return to service of these aircraft.  Any re-introduction will require a robust safety case, as well as a requirement for a series of checks, modification and inspections that must be carried out before undertaking any flying. 

“At this time, there is an ongoing Airbus survey for pilots and passengers regarding these specific helicopters’ flight safety and comfort, which was issued just one week ago.  It’s our understanding that this survey still has a further three weeks to run.

“Given the importance of the workforce’s opinion regarding this highly emotive subject we do not feel it’s appropriate to make any further comment until Airbus has gathered, and shared, the survey’s results and can demonstrate how they intend to address any concerns raised by the workforce. 

“We would encourage all members of the workforce to participate and have their voices heard.”

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