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Safety group lifts Super Puma flight ban

Operating restrictions that have grounded operations using Eurocopter Super Puma models in the UK have been lifted following a two-day meeting of the pan-industry Helicopter Safety Steering Group.

The withdrawal of the AS332L/L1, L2 and EC225s from service followed a fatal accident involving an L2 near Sumburgh, Shetland Isles on 23 August.

However, announcing its decision on 29 August, the HSSG said it felt it was right to the return the aircraft to service following the "time out for safety".

It says consultations with the helicopter operators suggest they are "satisfied that there is no reason to believe there is an inherent mechanical problem with any of the AS332L/L1, AS332L2 or EC225 helicopter types".

It also notes no reaction from either EASA or the UK Civil Aviation Authority "which positively affirms that there are no safety reasons that support a suspension of flying".

"Finally, the global picture is that these airframes have continued to fly; moreover, the Norwegian CAA has publicly stated that there are no technical reasons that support a suspension of service," it says.

Additionally it points to the initial statement issued earlier on 29 August from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch which "suggests that the helicopter was intact and upright when it entered the water".

"As a consequence, the HSSG supports the return to active service of all variants of the Super Puma fleet."

However it suggests that given the sensitivities around the accident, the L2 fleet should only initially return to non-revenue operations.

Additionally it mandates an independent review into offshore helicopter transportation.

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