The safety record of the Sikorsky S-92 – a major theme in the year-long competition for the US Navy's VXX presidential helicopter contract – has suffered a public setback. On 30 March, a Norsk Aviation crew flying Norway's first operational S-92 made a normal landing at their intended destination on an offshore rig, but observed a significant drop in oil pressure in the main gearbox, says Norsk commercial director Geir Tynning. An investigation showed that oil pump splines were overworn on the aircraft, which had flown nearly 300h, he says.

Sikorsky has issued a safety bulletin to operators, Tynning adds, enforcing a 50h replacement cycle on the oil pump splines until the root cause of the accelerated wear is determined. Despite the setback, Tynning says Norsk is pleased by the S-92's performance, and a second aircraft was accepted in early April. "Passengers love the aircraft," he says.

Sikorsky made the S-92's safety standards a major issue in the VXX competition against the winning proposal by the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland/Bell Helicopter US101 team.

Source: Flight International