The final report issued by the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) after the 2009 crash of a Bond-operated Eurocopter AS332 L2 Super Puma in the North Sea is highlighting imperfections in the main gearbox’s design and, maybe more important, in monitoring systems and maintenance programs.
CHC Helikopter Service
All 16 people aboard a Eurocopter AS 332L2 Super Puma operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters died when the medium twin hit the surface of the North Sea on April 1, after what the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) called a catastrophic failure of the main gearbox.
Pledging to build already successful long-time central Atlantic coast helicopter support and repair operation Keystone Helicopter into a $350 million business, Keystone Ranger Holdings’ CEO Steve Townes addressed Keystone staffers, founders and well-wishers at a recent “closing dinner” held at the American Helicopter Museum near Keystone’s headquarters in West Chester, Pa., near Philadelphia.
Helicopter services firm CHC Helicopter has stated that third-quarter profit rose nearly 40 percent as higher contract rates and lower interest costs offset reduced activity in its European operations. For the quarter ended January 31, St. John’s-based CHC posted net earnings of $15.6 million, or 70 cents a share, up 39.3 percent from last year’s $11.2 million, or 62 cents a share.
A well known name is returning to British skies with creation of a new rotorcraft operation to support North Sea oil and gas exploration and production activity. The name is Bond, Bond Offshore Helicopters (BOH), and it will be licensed to fly.
After a government-appointed arbitrator stopped discussions on May 9, mechanics at Norwegian offshore operator Norsk Helikopter went on strike, curtailing most
of the company’s operations. Disagreement over pay increases and other contract items led to the labor walkout.
A Eurocopter AS 365N Dauphin, operated by CHC Scotia, crashed on December 27 near an oil rig in the East Irish Sea. None of the two crew or five passengers survived; one body is missing. The 20-year-old airframe had not been recovered at press time. The accident took place at about 6:35 p.m. local time, some 1,500 feet from the North Morecambe platform, on a flight from the Millom West platform.
North Sea operator Helikopter Service has imposed torque and speed limits on its two new Sikorsky S-92s, but Keith Mullett, managing director of Canadian parent company CHC’s European operations, is downplaying the news. A company notice to pilots issued in May requires them, when flying near maximum gross weight, to restrict torque to as little as 65 percent and speed to 125 knots (26 knots short of the max recommended cruise speed).
Norway’s Helikopter Service, now part of CHC Europe, a division of CHC Helicopter Corp. of Canada, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The company, founded in Oslo by Morten Hanke in 1956, was the first to begin civil helicopter operations in Norway, with a Bell 47.
Sikorsky has introduced a software fix for its S-92 that it says will address a 4R vibration some pilots have experienced at high cruise speeds. The company has already retrofitted new active vibration control software to some of the fleet.