A UK inquiry into the April 2009 fatal crash of a Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma in the North Sea begins today in Aberdeen, Scotland. Operated by Bond Helicopters, the rotorcraft suffered a main rotor gearbox failure and crashed into the sea off the Aberdeenshire coast while returning from an oil platform. The accident killed the two pilots and all 14 passengers aboard.
Bell Helicopter will build its new short light single (SLS) helicopter at Lafayette Regional Airport in Louisiana, the company announced last month.
Raising commonality in the way different companies operate the same helicopter type will be among the subjects of the safety review launched by North Sea operators Bristow, Avincis and CHC.
AgustaWestland continues to be on pace to certify its new AW189 medium-twin helicopter late this year, with the first non-test production model making its first flight on Thursday. The helicopter is slated for December delivery to oil-and-gas service operator Bristow Group. Two other AW189s are on the production line in Italy.
Helicopter operator Bristow has inked several multi-year contracts with offshore oil and gas companies. The deals involve 12 large and three medium helicopters and are expected to generate up to $850 million in revenue. Operations will take place in Europe, Australia, the Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique. Six of the 12 large helicopters are new Sikorsky S-92s.
In the wake of a recent accident, three stakeholders in the Eurocopter Super Puma arena have rallied to support the aircraft’s safety record and image. “We do not believe that the accident was caused by an airworthiness or technical problem,” the UK CAA said in a statement.
Bristow Academy, a division of Bristow Group, has introduced into service its first four Robinson R44 training helicopters with Garmin 500H glass cockpits with dual 6.5-inch LCDs.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm headed by NetJets founder Richard Santulli, closed a new $300 million credit facility yesterday. The company will use these proceeds to acquire and lease helicopters–including Sikorsky S-92s, Eurocopter EC225s and AgustaWestland AW189s and AW139s–valued at $400 million to affiliates of Bristow Group. The credit facility is the largest ever for a helicopter lessor, the company said.
Offshore oil helicopter operator Bristow Group is retrofitting all 44 of its helicopters with Rockwell Collins Tcas II systems. Working with the avionics manufacturer, Bristow has already retrofitted the Collins TTR-4000 Tcas II system on 24 of its helicopters. Within the next year Rockwell Collins is to install its next-generation TTR-4100, which adds traffic computer capability and enables ADS-B IN applications, on 20 of Bristow’s helicopters.
Rockwell Collins has signed a series of contracts to supply the Bristow Group, SunExpress Airlines and Iberia Airlines with various avionics equipment. This includes TCAS for Bristow’s 44 Sikorsky helicopters and a package to allow the airline customers to comply with Eurocontrol’s Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) requirement.