The fatal crash of an airbus Group SE H225 Super Puma helicopter in Norway late April has highlighted the vital importance of part service and repair work on all aircraft.
While it is still not known what caused what has been described as a “rare” accident, amateur video footage captured at the time shows the rotor head with blades still attached breaking away from the helicopter while it is flying in the air. All 13 people on board were killed when the aircraft plunged into the sea.
Helicopter flight data (FDR) retrieved from the flight recorder and data from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) is all said to be of “good quality” and is currently being analyzed in Norway. While no official report has yet been issued by the Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN), the owners of the aircraft, CHC Helicopter have told media that there had not been any emergency calls from the two pilots prior to the crash. They also confirmed that the fated helicopter had been forced to return to base twice in the week before the accident because of a warning light.
The rotor was reported retrieved from a rocky outcrop more than 200 m from where the helicopter crashed just west of the city of Bergen, its destination. After the wreckage had been moved to facilities of the AIBN in Lillestrøm, AIBN reported that they will still searching for Airbus Helicopter parts that were “connected to the main gearbox.” Meanwhile, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) that stated it appeared that the main rotor hub had separated from the main gearbox, in flight.
Weather conditions on the day of the crash were normal and the AIBN has said it believes the incident was caused by “a technical failure.” As a precautionary measure, the EASA AD called for “before next flight” inspections on all EC 225 helicopters, and for “any discrepancy” to be reported to both EASA and Airbus Helicopters.
Airbus Helicopters’ Safety Management System
Airbus Helicopters has a strict safety management system (SMS) that promotes “a reactive, proactive and predicative organizational approach to safety risks.” This includes:
- Safety by training of pilots and flight crews.
- Safety by design that includes constant technological improvements aimed at safety. Aircraft design features include:
- The Fenestron shrouded tail router
- Starflex and Spheriflex main rotor hubs
- Crashworthy seats
- Safety by maintenance which specifies three pillars of maintenance:
- Maintenance procedures
- Maintenance documentation
- Maintenance training
- Safety by co-operation with suppliers and operators.
- Safety documents that are supplied to the industry.
- Safety news that is released regularly.
- Safety events that the company supports worldwide.
Safety Maintenance, Part Service and Repair Work Vital
Shortly after the accident in Norway, a spokesman for the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority said that maintenance of the helicopter had been delayed twice during 2015. Mr. Hege Aalstad, a senior legal advisor at the Authority said there had been applications for travel-time extensions. Each was for a delay of 100 flying hours. These were granted.
Airbus Helicopters emphasizes the importance of a proper maintenance regime, stating that it “plays a crucial role in supporting helicopter safety.” This includes providing invaluable information to help maintenance teams “make the right decisions” when it comes to keeping aircraft airworthy.
The company also offers an online technical publication service that provides documentation supporting safe operations as well as maintenance of its helicopters. These include various maintenance manuals that list processes to be followed when identifying, maintaining and repairing helicopter parts.
Prime Industries helps owners and operators ensure that proper maintenance procedures are followed by supplying new and overhauled quality Airbus Helicopter parts as well as part service and repair. So don’t delay crucial maintenance work; contact the Prime team and we’ll provide the parts you need, when you need them.