Bond AS332s and EC225s take to the air again

Bond AS332s and EC225s take to the air again

15-May-2012 Source: Bond Aviation Group

Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd., one of the UK’s leading providers of energy support services announced the resumption of flights following the release of important data from Eurocopter. The full fleet of helicopters will return to service over the next 24 hrs.

Bill Munro, Managing Director of Bond Offshore Helicopters said, “Bond puts safety first, above commercial considerations. We have now completed a rigorous engineering analysis and safety risk assessment of all aspects of the operation that included as part of this process an inspection of the entire fleet. These actions, in addition to working closely with the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the information and the assurances received from Eurocopter as the gearbox manufacturer, have allowed us to return the fleet to service”. He added,” As a result of our detailed inspections, we are confident that there is no linkage between the gearbox-related incidents that Bond Helicopters have experienced, the causes of which have been proven to be beyond our control”

Following the initial findings of the AAIB interim Service Bulletin S2/2012, Eurocopter issued a statement that claimed that the AS332L2 can be operated for a maximum of 4 hours. Eurocopter have now informed Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd. that this inspection can be extended to 5 hours, providing that data from the internal Heath and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) is analysed prior to the following flight. HUMS uses a variety of vibration sensors to monitor the main gearbox that includes the bevel gear shaft and the two oil pumps. It is these 3 components that were proven to have failed in the G-REDW incident.

The gearbox that suffered the failure was fitted with a bevel shaft that was specifically designed for EC225 and was certified in 2004. Bond Helicopters’ three AS332L2’s are fitted with a different bevel gear shaft that has completed 4.5 million flight hours without defect. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd. have conducted numerous risk assessments and are now satisfied that by adhering to the HUMS monitoring system recommendations made by Eurocopter these helicopters are safe to fly pending a permanent solution to the problem.

In order to ensure the safe operation of the EC225 fleet, Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd. are conducting boroscope tests on each of the bevel gear shafts to confirm that no cracks are present. In addition, and in common with the AS332L2’s, the HUMS system will be used to monitor vibration in the main gear box (includes bevel gear shaft monitoring) and two oil pumps in order to ensure the safe operation of this particular helicopter type.

Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd. continues to work with Eurocopter and the regulatory authorities to find a permanent solution to the issues that have challenged the industry with regard to the Eurocopter EC225.

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