Sikorsky probing fleet after December oil platform incident

A helicopter caused damage to a North Sea oil platform, though no injuries were reported.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Jan. 10, 2017 at 8:17 AM
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ABERDEEN, Scotland, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A decision to ground some helicopters serving offshore installations in the North Sea should impact operations only short-term, a safety group said.

Sikorsky said it was grounding its S92 service helicopters following a December incident that left router damage to the West Franklin platform in the North Sea, operated by French supermajor Total.

Les Linklater, the executive director for Step Change in Safety, said Sikorsky was conducting visual inspections of its global S92 fleet as a precautionary step.

"Currently the duration of the inspections is expected to take up to 11 man hours, which means this will cause some short term delays," he said in a statement. "We are in close communication with trades unions, helicopter operators and the Civil Aviation Authority."

A spokesperson for CHC Helicopter, which operated the S92 involved in the incident, told UPI the crew responded as trained and landed the craft after control issues while landing at the platform. No injuries were reported.

"We are in close contact with the aircraft manufacturer and we will be keeping customers and fellow operators informed of any significant factual information as it emerges," the spokesperson said.

In October, a subsidiary of Chevron working off the coast of Angola reported a crash of a Bell 430 helicopter on its way to the Tombua-Landana facility.

A helicopter used by Norwegian energy company Statoil crashed in early 2016 on its way to the Gulfaks B with 13 people on board.

Statoil said the organization of helicopter safety was complicated because of the number of players involved, each of whom have a varying degree of understanding about their role in the work.

Linklater said his organization was coordinating with other relevant players to maintain safe flight operations and ensure the operational impact is limited. The investigation into the S92 incident is in the early stages, he stressed.

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