Super Pumas remain grounded in UK

Super Puma02 September 2013, News Wires – Super Puma helicopters remain largely grounded in the UK despite a suspension being lifted last week in the aftermath of a crash off Shetland that left four oil workers dead.

Operators of the aircraft are in some cases struggling to reposition the helicopters following the decision on Thursday by Step Change in Safety’s Helicopter Safety Steering Group, HSSG, to lift a recommendation grounding them after the CHC Helicopter AS332 L2 crashed into the sea off Sumburgh on 23 August.

Canadian operator CHC has not yet flown any Super Pumas in the UK since they were cleared to return although a spokesperson said it would likely do so some time this week.

Competitor Bond Offshore Helicopters has likewise not flown any passengers on its Super Pumas in the UK since the HSSG’s decision although it had carried out training and repositioning flights.

A spokesperson said the incident, in which 12 other oil workers and two crew members survived, led to much of its fleet of L2 model Super Pumas being caught out of position.

Bond’s fleet of Super Puma EC225s are in the midst of carrying out a planned return to service after all such models were grounded following a pair of ditchings last year and only recently cleared to fly again.

Information on the current status of Bristow Group’s Super Puma fleet in the UK was not available.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing but preliminary results from the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch point to the aircraft encountering problems three miles off Sumburgh before crashing two miles from its destination.

The helicopter is believed to have been intact when it hit the water and remained upright for a brief period.

A statement from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority read: “Based on all the information currently available, we do not believe that the accident was caused by an airworthiness or technical problem, and consider that the decision by the operators to resume Super Puma flights is appropriate.

“We would not allow a return to service unless we were satisfied that it was safe to do so. We will review the position if any new evidence comes to light.”

– Upstream

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