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Helicopter crash off the coast of Newfoundland - 18 aboard, March 2009

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Helicopter crash off the coast of Newfoundland - 18 aboard, March 2009

Old 24th Mar 2009, 02:49
  #201 (permalink)  
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Location: Vancouver
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They had a simliar incident in Australia were the Oil filter studs sheared and they lost all Oil from the MRGB.

Would seem to be a weak link much the same as the AS332 old style filter housings which had a plug attached by two wee bolts, when they finally failed it to dumped all it's oil, needless to say Eurocopter redesigned the housing.

Probbaly be wise to redesign this one before it fails again.
wobblybob is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 03:14
  #202 (permalink)  
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Maybe I'm a little ignorant, but doesn't certification of an acft. include long term airframe sytems to be tested in flight or static be done on it? How can you simulate flight stress without such conditions before hand? It might cost the manufacturer more money, but save lives in the long run.
sorath5 is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 05:50
  #203 (permalink)  
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So.......now, it's TWO studs that failed...????????
gwillie is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 06:33
  #204 (permalink)  
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Did someone say only one had failed?

I would guess the triangular layout of the studs would probably require two to fail before the filter housing would break away?
Variable Load is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 06:58
  #205 (permalink)  
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Sasless, I may not have flown in the offshore world but I can guarantee that the oil companies don't willingly put their employees at risk for the sake of a few quid.

It has been highlighted on the N sea crash thread that oil workers are extremely safety conscious and have no problem with a pilot saying 'no go' for whatever reason.

It seems from comments on that thread from those in the know that it is the helicopter operators themselves, all busy undercutting the others to get the contract, that have created a poor Flight Safety culture in order to get the job done cheaply.
Clearly, you haven't flown in the offshore world. The first instinct of an oil company when a safety rule is inconvenient is to see if it can be waived.

The best example, and most ludicrous, was doing my 90-day night helideck recurrency at the airport because the rigs were not available. We protested, they approved.
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Old 24th Mar 2009, 07:14
  #206 (permalink)  
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Offshore contracts for helicopter services are written by the clients (oil Companies) and dictate their requirements for the duration of the contract.
The tender that gets submitted will be in accordance with a stated requirement for a specified type or class of aircraft and things like flight following, HUMS, ADELT, GPWS etc that are not legally mandated will be included/excluded by the client at their will.

The operators then need to fulfill those requirements that are specified and still leave room for profit while being competetive in the bid. So the statement that the operators are "undercutting each other" is in my opinion a bit harsh, but accurate. After all, in order to get a job in the commercial world a company needs to be more economical than their opposition.

If it was truly about safety and if the oil workers were the number one priority like the oil companies all say they are then surely they would run their own aviation departments all over the oil patch and not just in places like Brunei and Australia (Esso).

You are fotunate to be in the military where you get all the toys you need and some you don't need for free from the taxpayers. Those same taxpayers need to buy their own toys AND pay for yours which makes margins a little tight at times.
unstable load is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 09:31
  #207 (permalink)  
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Unstable Load - we are talking about the oil companies here who are making zillions of pounds a day in profit, not the poor old British taxpayer (and I am one at 40% don't forget).

It would seem that they have been allowed to dictate terms and conditions for too long without adequate control from the regulators. If the standards were set nationally and internationally to the level that the workforce should come to expect nowadays then the oil companies would not be able to screw the nut down so tightly on the operators.

The oil companies will blame the pilots for the N Sea crash and the manufacturers for the Newfoundland crash but they and the regulators are ultimately responsible for what goes on offshore.

If there really is an aspiration to achieve airline levels of safety then the customer will have to put his hand in his very large pocket and the regulators will have to make sure the standards are imposed. I know it flies in the face of current business practise but unless you want another 50 years of wailing and gnashing of teeth every time a foreseable accident occurs offshore, something needs to change.
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 09:34
  #208 (permalink)  
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Crab a 40% taxpayer

Obviously being paid too much.
I will complain to my M.P.
Tractor_Driver is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 09:42
  #209 (permalink)  
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If you tell him you have seen me wasting it (taxpayers money) as well you will probably get a nice quote for the papers
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 10:15
  #210 (permalink)  
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Looks like its another case of successful "light touch" regulation

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Old 24th Mar 2009, 13:18
  #211 (permalink)  
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Seems it was two studs of three that failed.....

Emergency Airworthiness Directive: S-92A Main Gearbox Filter Bowl Assembly Mounting Stud - Replacement
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 - FAA

Aircraft Certification Service
Washington, DC
Aircraft Safety Alerts

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration

DATE: March 23, 2009
AD #: 2009-07-53

This Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) is prompted by the failure of 2 main gearbox filter bowl assembly mounting studs (studs) that were found broken during a fatal accident investigation in Canada. Prior to the accident, the manufacturer was investigating a July 2008 incident that also involved broken studs. In both cases, the broken studs resulted in rapid loss of oil. The failures have been tied to fretting and galling of the original titanium studs; therefore, we are requiring the removal of all titanium studs and replacement with steel studs. We are issuing this EmergencyAD to prevent failure of a stud which could result in rapid loss of oil, failure of the main gearbox, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

We have reviewed Sikorsky Alert Service Bulletin No. 92-63-014A, Revision A, dated March 20, 2009, which describes procedures for removing the main gearbox bowl assembly titanium mounting studs and replacing them with steel mounting studs.

This unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of the same type design. Therefore, this AD requires, before further flight, replacing titanium studs with steel studs. The actions must be accomplished by following specified portions of the alert service bulletin described previously.

This rule is issued under 49 U.S.C. Section 44701 pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, and is effective immediately upon receipt of this emergency AD.

2009-07-53 SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORPORATION: Directorate Identifier 2009-SW-08-AD.

Applicability: Model S-92A helicopters with a main gearbox housing assembly, part number (P/N) 92351-15110-042, -043, or -044, that is not marked with “TS-062-01” near the P/N, certificated in any category.

Compliance: Required before further flight, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent failure of a main gearbox filter bowl assembly mounting stud (stud), which could result in rapid loss of oil, failure of the main gearbox, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:

(a) Remove the titanium studs by following the Accomplishment Instructions in Sikorsky Alert Service Bulletin No. 92-63-014, Rev. A, dated March 20, 2009 (ASB), paragraph 3.A.
Note: Figure 1 of the ASB contains guidance for removal and installation of the studs.

(b) Visually inspect the tapped holes and the main gearbox housing lockring counterbore for damage. If you find damage in the tapped holes or in the main gearbox housing lockring counterbore, contact the Boston Aircraft Certification Office for an approved repair.

(c) Install steel studs and mark the main gearbox housing as “TS-062-01” near the P/N by following the Accomplishment Instructions in the ASB, paragraph 3.C.

(d) To request a different method of compliance or a different compliance time for this AD, follow the procedures in 14 CFR 39.19. Contact the Manager, Boston Aircraft Certification Office, Engine and Propeller Directorate, FAA, ATTN: Kirk Gustafson, Aviation Safety Engineer, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803, telephone (781) 238-7190, fax (781) 238-7170, for information about previously approved alternative methods of compliance.

(e) Special flight permits will not be issued.

(f) Copies of the applicable service information may be obtained from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Attn: Manager, Commercial Technical Support, mailstop s581a, 6900 Main Street, Stratford, CT, telephone (203) 383-4866, e-mail address [email protected], or at Home.

(g) Emergency AD 2009-07-53, issued March 23, 2009, becomes effective upon receipt.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kirk Gustafson, Aviation Safety Engineer, Boston Aircraft Certification Office, Engine and Propeller Directorate, FAA, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803, telephone (781) 238-7190, fax (781) 238-7170.

Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 23, 2009.
Mark R. Schilling,
Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate,
Aircraft Certification Service.
SASless is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2009, 13:35
  #212 (permalink)  
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Interesting that Cougar says it is to resume operations -- the inference from the story being that S-92 ops will be restarted -- even though Sikorsky's own press release on the Emergency AD states "...no determination has been made that the broken studs contributed to the accident or if they resulted from it..."

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Old 24th Mar 2009, 13:48
  #213 (permalink)  
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SK presently are in a rather iffy state, a number of legal actions must be pending, admitting a cause of failure related to a design problem may not be a good thing just now. Maybe, the legal argument could be placed re the correct application of procedures regarding the tightening of the nuts on the subject studs. Bugger, another can of worms.
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Old 24th Mar 2009, 17:00
  #214 (permalink)  
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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 ?
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Old 25th Mar 2009, 06:38
  #215 (permalink)  
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Pretty much on the money, crab!

The oil comanies will only do what they NEED to do as far as it gets them out of the responsibility loop then they can blame the operator for the mess if there is one.
They are the regulators of the industry (oil) but also play the local regulations game where if a local law/reg is more favourable then it goes into practice.

After all, if you pay more for services then you have less profit to post.
unstable load is offline  
Old 25th Mar 2009, 16:25
  #216 (permalink)  
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Image of the wreck of a Cougar Helicopters aircraft

Can be found here
Ground Sikorsky helicopters until parts replaced: FAA
casteel is offline  
Old 25th Mar 2009, 21:03
  #217 (permalink)  
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Regarding Crab's point, there is no point in being the safest operator if you go out of business because your costs are too high. It is the nature of our business that we compete with each other primarily on price, and despite their massive profits, the oil companies squeeze us to the bone. It's difficult to see how that will ever change. That is life in civvy world where there is not a bottomless pit of taxpayers money!

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Old 25th Mar 2009, 21:11
  #218 (permalink)  
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HC ,

Just what are you saying.....surely you do not mean one should cut safety standards as a way of staying in business? If you do...then that tells me you endorse trading lives for Dollars/Sterling!

What financial value do you place on a human life HC?

50,000 UKP, 100,000 UKP?
SASless is offline  
Old 26th Mar 2009, 10:50
  #219 (permalink)  
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there is no point in being the safest operator if you go out of business because your costs are too high. It is the nature of our business that we compete with each other primarily on price, and despite their massive profits, the oil companies squeeze us to the bone. It's difficult to see how that will ever change.
HC, you would have enjoyed working with us. First world country, no weather reports to read so necessity to plan alternates or anything else, being caught in weather SOP, dictated by management to do what you're told (non compliance with regs) and there are some here suggesting ownership and operation by an oil company is the way forward. I've got news for them, and none of it good. The aircraft and maintenance were top notch however. The whole problem with the industry is that we don't have paying passengers. If that were the case consumer groups and the media would be on the regulators and politicians case.
Brian Abraham is offline  
Old 26th Mar 2009, 12:32
  #220 (permalink)  
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Operator safety, maybe I am missing the plot, all operators are controlled by local regulation regarding minimum standards. Engineering in Europe EASA Part 145, engineering training requirements Part 147. Companies are continually audited by the authority on their compliance and they have to demonstrate that the required procedures are in place and that they are funded to comply. The system is policed in all companies by the required in house Quality Systems again continually audited by the authority.
Operations are again controlled by regulation, JAR now EASA OPS Part 3, licensing and training under EASA FCL regulations. Again continual audits and in house quality oversight.
Ignoring a shit load of other requirement and needed to have systems in place monitoring, recording and with oversight responsibility, maintaining a continued AOC and engineering 145 approvals is controlled to the requirements now in place.
Add to that the continual audit and input from the client oil company.
So if safety is being compromised in the interest of saving money increasing profit and winning contracts in what area are you inferring this is being done?
1. Legislation not being complied with.
2. Companies not complying with the regulations even though they have the systems in place.
3. Sub standard departmental control leading to failings.
4. Not enough cash available to support the required needs.
5. Training and certification of staff not to sufficient levels.
The list could go on. Feel free to add.
Safety can be improved by adding worthwhile and prudent controls to existing legislation.
1. Improvement to existing legislation governing machines in service and new type certificated machines.
2. Legislation that is written in a way to ensures that the intent is clear and not open to ways to bypass original intent.
3. Ensuring helicopters actually fulfil the requirements needed to certify.
4. Reduce the influence of the lobby effect and the interest of big business entities.
5. Review and improvement as technology develops.
Looking at the tragic event driving this thread, the root cause is a combination of a number of failings in the system, we can all see and by now identify.
1. Confusion and misinterpretation of the actual certification state of the affected bit.
2. The failing of a simple component part that caused oil loss and system failure.
3. Less than satisfactory advice to crew that may have influenced the decision making process.
4. Operating in a severe environment.
Again the list could go on.
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