- UK and Norwegian regulators announce their intention for removal of restrictions that prevent operators using the helicopters
- The move follows extensive investigation, testing and changes to the helicopter and its maintenance
- Flights will not resume immediately
- Helicopter had already been cleared to fly by the European Aviation Safety Agency in October 2016
The two helicopter types, popularly known as Super Pumas, were restricted from being used commercially by UK and Norwegian operators.
Both the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway have remained in close contact with the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA); UK and Norwegian operators; and with the manufacturer, Airbus Helicopters which has developed the modifications and enhanced safety measures for the type.
Despite the helicopter being released back in to service by EASA in October 2016, the restrictions remain in place in the UK and Norway until these further enhancements have been made.
Changes and modifications made to the helicopter and its maintenance by Airbus Helicopters include:
- Change in the design by removal of the components that were susceptible to premature deterioration.
- Earlier replacement of components
- Design change to introduce an improved maintenance inspection method to detect any deterioration at an early stage.
- More frequent inspections
- Reduction in the thresholds for rejecting components based upon early signs of any deterioration.
It will also be for operators and their customers to decide whether they wish to re-introduce the helicopters to service. In order to resume operations individual operators will need to supply safety cases to ensure that they have all the necessary measures (procedures, processes, tooling and training) in place for a return to service.
Explaining the decision John McColl, Head of Airworthiness at the UK CAA, 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.”
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, http://www.freelancedirectory.org/user.php?user=8121 www.freelancedirectory.org?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476