Airbus Limits H175 Speed After Crack Discovery

 - June 21, 2019, 10:26 AM
A crack in the horizontal stabilizer has led global off-shore rotorcraft operator Babcock International to ground its two H175s, while Airbus has restricted the maximum forward speed of the super-medium twin to 80 knots, as it investigates the cause.

Airbus Helicopters has restricted the maximum forward speed of its H175 super-medium twin to 80 knots after a substantial crack was found in a horizontal stabilizer on one aircraft. That H175 was operated by Babcock International in the North Sea. The horizontal stabilizer crack ran from the leading to near the trailing edge. Babcock is grounding its two H175s.

Another North Sea H175 operator, NHV, has “paused” flights of the aircraft. Approximately 19 H175s are operated in the North Sea, serving oil-and-gas customers there. EASA is expected to issue a safety bulletin mandating inspections of the H175 fleet. 

The first H175 was delivered in 2014 and the helicopter is currently flying offshore energy missions in the Scottish and Dutch North Sea, Mexico, and off the West African coast. The helicopter also has been delivered to a variety of para-public and private customers. More than 100 of the aircraft have been ordered.

The H175 is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67Es (1,776 shp each) and features the Helionix avionics system with four-axis autopilot. The aircraft has a maximum speed of 160 knots and a range of 136 to 600 nm depending on load. In March NHV announced that its then fleet of 11 H175s had accumulated 30,000 flight hours.