The EASA issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive for Eurocopter EC225 medium-twin helicopters, requiring operators to closely monitor vibrations. The emergency action stems from a May 10 incident involving an EC225 operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters, which safely ditched, with 14 on board, into the North Sea. Under the AD, those EC225s not equipped with vibration health monitoring are restricted to day VFR for flights over water.
The Bond EC225 investigation is focusing on the failures of two main gearbox lubrication systems–standard and back-up. According to the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the event began when the main gearbox oil pressure gauge indicated zero. The crew initiated a descent and then activated the emergency lubrication system. However, the warning light for this system, designed to allow 30 minutes of flight, quickly illuminated, prompting the pilots’ decision to ditch.
After the incident, Bond suspended EC225 and later AS332L2 Super Puma flights. The AAIB identified a “360-degree circumferential crack in the bevel gear vertical shaft in the main gearbox.” This caused disengagement of both mechanical (standard) oil pumps.
On May 15, Bond announced the resumption of all flights. This was the result of “a rigorous engineering analysis and safety risk assessment.” A Eurocopter spokesman noted that neither the AAIB nor the EASA had required any aircraft grounding.
Source: AIN, Thierry Dubois
Gravity always wins!
I finished working in the North Sea 15 years ago, and during that time flew more than 500 times out to the Brent or between the various intallations or semi-subs with only one or two incidents. Unfortunately many of my coleagues were not so fortunate, and over the years I saw too many crashes.
The Eighties and Nineties were particularly bad especially the universally hated Chinook and I was involved with the in-field SAR provision ( Bell 212s) which itself suffered tragedy.
During that time when North Sea development was at its peak and the envelope was being pushed every day, but now 20+ years on these incidents are still happening, and aircraft are still being pushed beyond what would be expected of military helicopters.
The people who work in the North Sea deserve so much better
Why is this still happening?
I also had the unfortunate experience of doing North Sea runs a Chinook. Never involved in any serious incidents myself, but had a few colleagues who were.