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EC225 Super Puma fleet for offshore operations grounded

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posted on Jan, 7 2013 @ 12:04 PM
The EASA in October issued an emergency AD in regards to the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma used for overwater operations, prohibiting operations for certain helicopters.

The AD came about after a Super Puma made an emergency water landing, with 17 people on board. Everyone survived, but it was the second time since May that a Super Puma was required to make an emergency water landing.

The cause of the landings was traced to a low oil warning light that activated. The light relates to the oil level in the Main Gear Box. The investigators found a full circumferential crack of the lower vertical shaft of the MGB bevel gear. This caused the vertical shaft to stop driving the main and backup oil pumps. The emergency lubrication system was activated, but after a warning that this system failed as well, the crew ditched.

There was a production change in this structure prior to both incidents. It allowed corrosion to start under the plastic plug that inserted into a bore hole, which led to the crack. The serial numbers of the parts in question have been identified.

This is pretty big news for the Super Puma, as many companies use them for over water operations to oil rigs. All Super Pumas that don't have a Vibrational Health Monitoring system, or have one that's unserviceable, are banned from any overwater ops.

The head of Eurocopter has admitted that the UK oil and gas industry has lost confidence in both Eurocopter, and the Super Puma. Eurocopter is going to have to scramble to get that confidence back, but it looks like it could be no earlier than some time in February before the Puma fleet is operating overwater flights again.

In May 2012 The Aviationist covered the story of the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma that experienced an emergency whilst ferrying oil workers from Aberdeen (Scotland) to the Maersk Resilliant and Ensco 107 drilling rigs in the North Sea carrying 14 people.

The pilot reported a low oil warning light had come on in the cockpit which had caused him to make the emergency landing on water. A similar incident occurred on Oct. 22, 2012 when a second Puma carrying 17 people also made a emergency landing again on water due to similar reasons.

In both cases, all the people on board survived the ditchings.

Following the second incident, all Puma helicopters involved in overwater ops were grounded until further notice by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority and the Air Accident Investigation board started an in-depth investigation into the cause of the problem with the helicopter.


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