While the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch is still probing the Eurocopter Super Puma fatal accident that killed four in August, the country’s CAA, its Norwegian counterpart and the European Aviation Safety Agency have launched a wider safety review of North Sea helicopter operations. Given that causal factors in recent accidents involved pilot performance and rotor and transmission failures, “an urgent review of the overall safety performance levels that currently exist in the North Sea operational context is required,” the CAA stated.
The three authorities plan to study the operators’ decision-making process and internal management practices, as well as the protection of occupants, and pilot training and performance. The officials also will scrutinize helicopter airworthiness, including current design requirements. The suitability of helideck monitoring systems will be considered, too.
The review will tap industry experts in addition to staff from the three authorities. The evaluation will include a study comparing operations in the UK sector of the North Sea with those in Norway, which is believed to have had a better safety record over recent years.
The CAA plans to publish a final report early next year.