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Monday, May 2, 2016

Probe Seeks Why EC225LP Rotor Detached in Flight

James T. McKenna

International investigators are seeking clues to why an EC225LP's main rotor detached in flight during a return flight from an offshore rig in Norway April 29.
The Airbus Helicopters medium twin crashed on the island of Turoey, west of its destination of Bergen, killing the two pilots and 11 passengers on board. Operated by CHC Helikopter Service for the Stavanger, Norway-headquartered global oil and gas company Statoil, the EC225 was returning from the offshore Gullfaks B platform about 100 nm northwest of Bergen when it crashed shortly before noon local time. 
In a safety notice issued April 30, Airbus said, “We do not have any information that allows us to understand the causes of the accident that involved the aircraft’s rotor being detached.” A video made public on April 29 showed what appears to be a five-bladed rotor separated from a helicopter and falling through the sky. 
Airbus said it concurred with directives from the civil aviation authorities (CAAs) of Norway and the U.K. prohibiting any public transport or commercial flights with EC225LPs immediately and until further notice within their jurisdictions. Airbus' notice recommended putting "all commercial EC225LP passenger flights on hold." The bans exclude search and rescue flights.
The accident aircraft's combined cockpit video and flight data recorder has been recovered and sent to the U.K. Air Accident Investigation Branch for readout and analysis. 
Norway's CAA said the crash was "the first fatal accident in Norwegian offshore operations since 1997."
It reported that the accident aircraft had been registered in Norway on Aug. 13, 2009. Its gearbox had been exchanged on Jan. 17 of this year, the CAA said, and its rotor head had been exchanged on March 27. 
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