EASA orders checks on Airbus copters following fatal crash in Japan

Energy Voice

Europe’s air safety watchdog has issued an “emergency” airworthiness directive on certain Airbus helicopter models following a fatal crash in Japan.

Four people died earlier this month when an Airbus AS332L copter crashed north-west of Tokyo.

All four worked for operator Toho Air Service.

In its directive, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said damage to a “flapping hinge link” on a rotor blade had been reported.

EASA said an investigation to determine the root cause of the damage was on-going.

The regulator said the condition could lead to the detachment of the tail rotor gearbox.

It has ordered operators to carry out one-time inspections on flapping hinges and take corrective action if necessary.

The directive also tells operators to report their findings to Airbus and send the manufacturer “any cracked components”.

The directive covers the AS332L1 model.

UK North Sea operators have not used the H225LP and AS332L2 Super Puma models since a fatal crash in Norway in April 2016.

In July, the UK Civil Aviation Authority announced plans to lift the ban, though a series of checks, modifications and inspections need to be undertaken before any flights take place.

An Airbus Spokesman said: “Airbus Helicopters is saddened by the loss of life in the AS332L accident in Japan on 8 November. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the bereaved.

“We are supporting the Japanese Transport Safety Board in its accident investigation.

“As a precautionary measure, we have today issued an Emergency Alert Service Bulletin, calling for the inspection of tail rotor hub components.

“As is standard, this bulletin is accompanied by an EASA AD notice, making the inspections compulsory.”