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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

CAA Supports Return to Service for North Sea Super Puma Operations

Civil Aviation Authority: 'We do not believe that the accident was caused be an airworthiness or technical problem.'

By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief

Following the fatal accident involving CHC AS332L2 Super Puma G-WNSB on August 23, UK operators have already returned their helicopters back to service. Four out of 18 passengers died when the aircraft came down in the sea two miles short of Sumborough Airport on the Shetland Islands.

On Thursday, Aug. 29, CHC returned its Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Pumas to normal operational service to oil platforms in the North Sea. On the same day, Bond Offshore Helicopters returned its EC225 fleet to scheduled service with the caveat that it would only use its fleet of "crew change AS332L2s for non-passenger operations (maintenance, positioning and training flights)."

On August 30, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority declared: "We have reviewed and assessed the evidence available, including the information already published by the Air Accident Investigation Branch and detailed information provided to us by the operators. Our team of specialists includes pilots who are experienced in flying the Super Puma AS332 L2 in the North Sea environment."

"Based on all the information currently available, we do not believe that the accident was caused by an airworthiness or technical problem, and consider that the decision by the operators to resume Super Puma flights is appropriate. We would not allow a return to service unless we were satisfied that it was safe to do so. We will review the position if any new evidence comes to light."

The Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB) has stated that the helicopter’s voice and data recorder has now been recovered for analysis. On August 29, the AAIB declared: "Preliminary information indicates that the approach proceeded normally until approximately three miles from the runway when there was a reduction in airspeed accompanied by an increased rate of descent."

To date the cause of the crash has not been made public.

Related: Offshore News

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