Helicopter operators Bond cleared over North Sea ditching
OFFSHORE helicopter operator Bond has been cleared over the ditching of a helicopter in the North Sea last month.
Eurocopter, the manufacturer of the Super Puma involved, found no operational or procedural error during an initial investigation into the incident off Aberdeen.
The company heaped praise on the professionalism of the two pilots whose controlled ditching saved the lives of 12 passengers and themselves.
The manufacturer announced that their early investigations showed Bond was not at fault.
The aviation giant said efforts were continuing to uncover the root cause of the mechanical failure. The incident on 10 May was caused by a cracked shaft driving two lubrication pumps, leading to a loss of oil pressure. The two crew and 12 passengers had to be rescued in what was the third incident involving a Bond Super Puma in three years.
In a statement issued yesterday, Eurocopter said: “The preliminary findings have shown that the incident was caused by a rupture of the shaft driving the two lubrication pumps, thus explaining the total loss of main gearbox oil pressure.
“At this stage of the investigation, neither procedure failure nor human error by Bond have been identified as a potential contributor to the cause of the incident.
“The Bond aircrew demonstrated their professionalism and skill in handling this incident, in accordance with the EC225 flight manual emergency procedure, which along with the excellent behaviour of this aircraft in the ditching situation, prevented any loss of life.”
The statement continued: “Eurocopter is devoting strong efforts to fully understand in a timely manner the root cause of this failure. In order to further develop the collaboration with all the major EC225 operators and to ensure full transparency with the oil and gas community, Eurocopter has implemented a dedicated team in Aberdeen.”
Malcolm Paine, Bond’s managing director said: “We are grateful to receive Eurocopter’s statement which supports the preliminary view that the controlled ditching was a result of a mechanical failure.
“Importantly, Eurocopter have recognised the professionalism and skill of Bond aircrew in handling the incident. We fully support Eurocopter’s efforts to understand the root cause of the failure and will continue to work with them and the authorities to ensure the continuation of safe operations for our customers and our crews.”
Following the incident, oil giant Shell abandoned plans to sign a major contract with Bond. The oil firm said it was not able to achieve sufficient assurances about Bond’s operations. Both BP and Maersk, however, said they retained confidence in Bond.
The helicopter firm temporarily suspended helicopter flights after the ditching. The aircraft had been heading from Aberdeen to the Maersk Resilient and Ensco 102 drilling rigs in the Jasmine field, operated by ConocoPhillips.
Bill Munro, the managing director at the time, also stepped down and Mr Paine took over.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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