PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - Helicopter crash off the coast of Newfoundland - 18 aboard, March 2009
Old 24th Mar 2009, 17:00
  #214 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 55
The exact sequence of events from this latest tragedy will no doubt illuminate one or more probable cause/effect scenarios - and as always there will be some recommendations following. The question that will remain is are we doing enough to make sure to the best of our ability that it doesn't happen again ?
The responsibility of ensuring safe offshore helicopter operations is supposed to be widespread, encompassing not only oil companies, but a/c operators, a/c OEM's, regularity authorities, and, in a perfect world, society in general. In our commercial world, pressure can re-align priorities, and given the inherent risk of helicopter operations in hostile offshore environments, mitigating known risks comes down to preventative action by all parties.
If the intent of the FAR29.927 clause in the Regulations was to ensure 30 minutes of continued operation in the event of complete oil loss (i.e."run dry") from the main lubrication system, why not use the word "complete" in the Regulation and then stipulate there must be a full stand-alone ELS system installen on the a/c, let's see what your design is ?
If this was indeed the intent, the wording in the design criteria, and also in the Procedure for Demonstrating Compliance ( from AC 29-2C) needs to be revised and expanded. Wording such as "remote possibility" or "probably never happen" should not be considered in any future regulation regarding complete oil loss. If a full stand-alone ELS is installed, is 30 minutes continued operating time enough for an offshore flight time of over 60 minutes to destination with no alternate?
A/c designers and manufacturers (OEM's) are by nature technically brilliant, and are (usually) only bound by the laws of physics and the laws of Regulations. They do however have substantial resources dedicated to finding ways around both. They will build what they are allowed to build and will go to extraordinary lengths to sell it, as long as they can sell it and make a profit - that's their business.
A/c operators are in the middle, between the folks that build these infernal flying machines and the folks who want to use them to get someone or something somewhere. They are also technically on the upper end of the scale and deal not only with the actual flying part, but maintaining these machines and at times (especially on new a/c types) figuring out what "bugs" or "gremlins" or otherwise they may unexpectedly encounter. As such they are most familiar with what is currently good and what is not with the a/c. and there is a reporting structure used throughout the industry whereby the operators sumbit Incident Reports, Service Difficulty Reports etc...to the OEM, the Regularity Authority, or both, depending on the type of report ; they in turn can at some point thereafter issue notices to operators of the a/c in the form of Service Bulletins, Airworthiness Directives etc..again depending on the type of report deemed necessary. Not all occurences are formally reported however in the relatively compact world of offshore helicopter operations, word usually gets around.
A question here is why, if there were ever to be a known risk (either demonstrated through previous occurrence, or by compounded evidence) which could have catastrophic results, would any delay whatsoever in preventative action (i.e before further flight) be accepted by anyone in this community ?
What would happen if all pilots and passengers, fixed wing or rotary, commercial or private, were to be asked to sign a waiver before boarding, which explained in clear plain language that there was a known risk with something on the aircraft that could have catastrophic results, but we haven't got round to fixing it yet, do you mind?
Isn't that what we may possibly be allowing today, except it's not explained in clear plain language ?
Like Wall Street, we're dealing with an entire industry here, an institution, too big to fail etc....but if we knew the system was broken, even though it would be extremely painfull and costly to fix, we would fix it.................wouldn't we ?
madrock is offline