Perfect storm – Sikorsky grounds S92

Perfect storm – Sikorsky grounds S92 10 Jan, 17, Source: HeliHub.com

Follow a recent landing incident on a North Sea rig, the BBC is reporting that Sikorsky has grounded the S92 pending certain checks.  A British CHC machine, registered G-WNSR, had a problem when landing on the West Franklin helideck on 28th December, resulting in large gouges out of the helideck surface as shown in photos here and hereUPDATE – it is not quite a “Grounding” but a Service Bulletin which requires completion before further flight. In the short term it requires operators to carry out one-off inspections of the tail rotor and bearing assemblies before the next flight – as well as a specific check of Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) data for each aircraft.  See here for an update from HeliOffshore

The Oil & Gas People website ran a longer story in which they quoted a CHC spokesman saying “We can confirm that one of the S92s operating from Aberdeen experienced unexpected control responses during the final stages of a landing at an offshore platform.  The crew responded immediately in accordance with their training and the aircraft was successfully landed and shut down; there were no reported injuries among the passengers or the crew.  The aircraft is being inspected by our engineers; we are making arrangements for the safe return of the aircraft to allow the investigation to continue.  We are in close contact with the aircraft manufacturer and we will be keeping customers and fellow operators informed of any significant factual information as it emerges.”

With the EC225 and AS332L2 still grounded by the UK and Norwegian CAAs, and Sikorsky now grounding the S92, that only leaves AW139, AW189 and H175 aircraft flying on the North Sea at present – with only the latter two flying in the less hospitable Northern North Sea.  This is really a “perfect storm” in terms of North Sea oil/gas support operations.

It is clear that offshore helicopter operators reducing the number of helicopter types (for whatever business efficiencies they foresee in doing that) need to balance the need to provide a continuous service when a situation arises like the one now staring them in the face.  Correspondingly, oil companies should not try to cut corners and force helicopter operators to unreasonably low rates.  Safety is a higher priority than profit, even when you have public shareholders to report to.

We believe this leaves the North Sea fleet as follows

  • Babcock UK -> AW139 x 8
  • Bel-Air Denmark -> AW139 x 3; AW189 x 3
  • Bristow Norway -> ZERO
  • Bristow UK -> AW139 x 6; AW189 x 3
  • CHC Netherlands -> AW139 x 8
  • CHC Norway -> ZERO
  • CHC UK -> AW139 x 6
  • Lufttransport Norway -> AS365 x 2
  • NHV/Blueway Denmark -> EC155 x 3
  • NHV/Blueway Netherlands -> H175 x 4; EC155 x 3
  • NHV/Blueway UK -> H175 x 2

Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com


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