Norway and UK lift Super Puma ban
The flight ban imposed on the Airbus H225 and AS332 L2 in Norway and the UK has been lifted by their respective civil aviation regulators.
The two ‘Super Puma’ helicopters will be able to fly again if operators meet revised safety measures issued by the two authorities.
Following a fatal crash of an Airbus H225 in Norway on 29 April 2016, the Norwegian authorities grounded the aircraft – a ban was issued by EASA later in June.
Whilst the European ban was lifted, the H225 remained grounded in Norway and the UK until “further enhancements were made”.
As a result, modifications were made to the helicopter and its maintenance, including removing components susceptible to premature deterioration, earlier component replacement standards, improved maintenance inspection, more frequent inspections and lower thresholds for rejecting deteriorating components.
John McColl, head of airworthiness at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly. It has only been made after receiving extensive information from the Norwegian accident investigators and being satisfied with the subsequent changes introduced by Airbus Helicopters through detailed assessment and analysis.
“The safety of those who travel on offshore helicopter flights is a key priority for both the UK and Norwegian aviation authorities. We would not have made this decision unless we were convinced that the changes to the helicopters and their maintenance restore the required airworthiness standards.
“We continue to work with the helicopter operators, the offshore industries, international regulators, unions and pilot representatives to enhance offshore safety standards still further and all these parties are actively involved in ongoing discussions.”
Despite the fly bans being lifted, many operators are still unsure about flying the Super Pumas until a full investigation by the Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) into Airbus is completed. The investigation was opened on 29 April 2016.
Unite Union expressed concern said that many of their members were still unsure about flying the helicopter.
In a statement to the BBC, Tommy Campbell, the union’s regional organiser said: “The offshore work force have been surveyed, they’ve been surveyed by the unions, they’ve been surveyed by magazines in the industry and there is a lack of confidence,
“There’s a significant issue and it’s very understandable. Offshore workers – or any workers – want to go to their work and come back home safely and there’s been far, far too many deaths now as a result of helicopter accidents.”
BP also stated that it will not use the two aircraft until the investigation is completed.