The UK's Helicopter Safety Steering Group announced Friday that it "fully supports" the decision by helicopter operators to continue suspension of EC225 Super Puma aircraft while reintroducing flights of certain variants of the Super Puma. It has also been reported that the ditching of the aircraft has been linked to the ditching of a similar Super Puma operated by Bond Aviation in May this year.
The suspension of Super Puma flights was introduced following Monday's ditching in the North Sea west of the Shetland Islands of an EC225 variant of the aircraft that was carrying 17 oilfield workers to the West Phoenix (UDW semisub) rig.
After all 17 passengers and two crewmembers of the Super Puma were picked up and returned to shore, the aircraft's operator – CHC Helicopter – along with Bond Aviation and Bristow Group suspended flights of all variants of Super Puma that they operate. Meanwhile, the UK's Air Accidents Investigations Branch announced Wednesday that it had sent a team of investigators to Aberdeen to look into the incident.
On Thursday, CHC Helicopter announced that Super Puma aircraft with bevel-gear vertical shafts – and which are unrelated to both Monday's incident and the ditching that occurred in May – have been deemed airworthy. Other Super Pumas will resume flights once their affected shafts have been replaced.
"EC225s industrywide and worldwide – with certain exceptions for life-or-death search-and-rescue missions – will not fly until we have more information and a solid plan to assure their safety," added CHC CEO William Amelio.
Bond Aviation announced it would be resuming a limited service of two of its AS332L2 variants of the Super Puma from Friday morning.
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