Updated: Super Puma ban to remain in place following latest crash report

A Super Puma EC225 operated by CHC Scotia.
A Super Puma EC225 operated by CHC Scotia.

Super Puma 225 flying restrictions will not be lifted based on the findings of a new report into last year’s fatal helicopter crash in Norway.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in a letter that “no new information” had emerged from the latest preliminary report from the Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN).

The new report from the AIBN will not be published until Friday, but a CAA spokesman said the authority had already received “feedback” on its content.

Mark Swan, group director, safety and airspace regulation, said in his letter: “The AIBN plans to issue a preliminary report on their investigation on the 28 April 2017 as part of their Norwegian legal obligation to report within one year of an accident.

“The report is comprehensive (101 pages) and provides significant detail. No new information for the CAA has emerged from the report and there are no safety recommendations.”

The letter was sent earlier this week to organisations, including regulators, helicopter operators and trade unions, who met in Aberdeen in February to discuss the potential return of the aircraft.

CAA said it was still working with its Norwegian counterpart on “agreeing the next steps required to be sufficiently satisfied” to remove the restrictions.

They will meet 225-maker Airbus and the pan-European safety group the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) early next month.

Mr Swan said: “CAA UK and CAA NO continue to work closely on agreeing the next steps required to be sufficiently satisfied in order to remove our Operational Safety Directives.

“Developments on the lifting and the detection capability look promising and we are hopeful that after obtaining further information we will be closer to removing our directives. At this time however the directives remain in place.”

Tommy Campbell, chairman of the Offshore Coordinating Group, said: “Our position is clear. No decision should be made until we know the full results of the route cause analysis from the horrific accident in Norway last year.

“We are aware that there is no support for workers for the return of 225s.”

Super Pumas have been grounded since a fatal crash off Norway last April killed all 13 people on board, including Iain Stuart 41, from Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire.

In the wake of the tragedy off Turoy, EASA stopped flights for both the model involved, the H225, and its sister chopper the AS332 L2.

Although EASA lifted the flight ban in October, aviation regulators in the UK and Norway decided to maintain the grounding until a full investigation into the cause of the Norway accident was completed.

The main North Sea helicopter operators had to find alternate aircraft, with the majority of flights out of Aberdeen now being carried out in Sikorsky S92s.

Step Change in Safety’s Executive Director Les Linklater said: “No loss of life can ever be acceptable but it remains imperative that the causal factors are understood, lessons are learned and actioned from all incidents if we are to make the necessary progress for offshore flight safety.

“Although the report is yet to be published, we understand that it is comprehensive, which we welcome, and although steady progress has been made there are no safety recommendations at this point.

“We will take the time to read the report once it has been published and continue to encourage transparent communication of the findings across the industry but most importantly all the people who travel in helicopters.”