Bristow officials are confident an “interim way to safely fly” Eurocopter EC225s will be found late this spring or early this summer. In a recent fiscal third-quarter earnings conference call, top executives at the helicopter operator said such an interim fix could be tighter oversight of Hums parameters, thus confirming what Eurocopter’s CEO hinted late last month. A shaft redesign, if needed, would take about a year-and-a-half, Bristow officials estimate.
In the wake of several ditchings stemming from false alarms of gearbox lubrication system failures, Bristow has suspended operations of 16 EC225s–12 in the UK, three in Australia and one in Norway. Other major offshore operators are also feeling the effects of the grounding–CHC has 30 EC225s out of service, and Bond would not give a precise number but AIN understands it is in the single digits.
Bristow estimates that, while 17 EC225s are still flying in China and Vietnam, about 80 aircraft have been suspended from flying worldwide. Among other mitigation measures for offshore platform crew changes, oil companies are sharing available space in helicopters, according to a union source and a representative of an oil company.