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Crashed Canadian 'copter safety questioned

April 6, 2009 at 12:42 PM

TORONTO, April 6 (UPI) -- Questions have arisen over a safety feature built into a Canadian Sikorsky helicopter that crashed off Newfoundland last month, killing 17 people.

The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto gained access to documents that showed "the S-92 couldn't meet a specification that calls for the main gearbox to run for half an hour without oil" in the event of a leak.

Yet certification documents filed with the Joint Aviation Authorities and seen by the newspaper show the U.S. Sikorsky company "demonstrated that a complete loss of gearbox oil was nearly impossible."

Early stages of the investigation into the Canadian crash indicate the craft experienced a sudden and complete loss of power and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean from about 900 feet while shuttling oil platform workers.

The only other known case of a total oil loss on an S-92 ocurred last summer when a helicopter in Australia made a forced landing that took 8 minutes, the newspaper said.

Sikorsky representatives told the newspaper they couldn't comment because the Canadian crash investigation is continuing.

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