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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 23rd Nov 2010, 21:55
  #741 (permalink)  
 
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I remember the night the 214ST went down and the wx was a bitch. If I recall correctly, the assumption was that both gyros were tumbled and this was noticed by a member of the ground staff who was talking to the crew prior to liftoff. The accident happened a very short distance from the rig which was in Placentia Bay at the time.

carholme

Last edited by carholme; 24th Nov 2010 at 12:30. Reason: Place name change
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Old 25th Nov 2010, 15:34
  #742 (permalink)  
 
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As usual the press and lawyers are ill-informed and spew incorrect facts.

I'm assuming that SAC will state that the Cougar S92 POH will be the applicable legal document albeit based on the S92 RFM, so the false temperature indication issue on loss of MRGB lube oil not captured in the RFM is valid and SAC should IMHO be liable, but not the run-dry statement which was not stated in the RFM albeit in historical SAC sales literature and a perceived abiility by some.

Safe flying

Max

Arguing jurisdiction [The Telegram] The following text has been excerpted from the media outlet cited and is provided to NOIA members for information purposes only. Any opinion expressed therein is neither attributable to nor endorsed by NOIA.

11/24/2010

Cougar Helicopters says St. John’s the proper venue for $27-million lawsuit

Cougar Helicopters argued in court Tuesday that its $27-million lawsuit against helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. should be tried in Newfoundland Supreme Court.

The ongoing hearing will decide whether that case is heard in a courtroom in St. John’s or in Connecticut.

The lawsuit stems from the March 12, 2009 helicopter crash off the coast of Newfoundland that killed 17 people.

Patrick Saul, one of the lawyers for Cougar, said the case is one of negligence by Sikorsky — and the effects of that negligence were mainly felt in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Cougar operates a fleet of Sikorsky S-92 helicopters to transport offshore workers to the oilfields off Newfoundland.

On the day of the crash, Saul said the decisions and actions of the Cougar Flight 491 pilots were affected by “representations and omissions” by Sikorsky.

En route to the White Rose and Hibernia oilfields, the pilots reported a loss of oil pressure in the main gearbox, which powers the helicopter’s rotor drive. They headed back to land. As the pilots wrestled with the oil-pressure problem, Saul said they relied on the S-92 emergency procedures manual published by Sikorsky.

It said an increase in oil temperature occurs when the oil pressure indicator light comes on. What the manual didn’t say, according to Saul, is the oil temperature gauge doesn’t function when all the oil is lost. He said Sikorsky’s procedure manual “failed in its purpose.”

Saul also said the pilots relied on the information that the S-92 helicopter had a 30-minute run-dry capability — meaning it could continue flying for one-half-hour after losing all oil in its lubrication system.

On the day of the crash, the helicopter flew for 11 minutes after the loss of oil pressure was reported.

The oil lubricates the main gearbox. The lubrication system was attached to the main gearbox by three titanium studs.

Loss in oil pressure

The Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the cause of the crash, has said two studs broke in flight, resulting in the loss of oil pressure.

Sikorsky has since redesigned the oil lubrication system and replaced the titanium studs with stronger steel studs.

Saul said the titanium studs posed an “unreasonably high risk of failure” — and were a departure from the usual practice of using steel studs. He said the titanium studs were supposed to be replaced every 500 hours of operation; instead, they needed to be changed more frequently.

Saul also said the oil, which is under pressure, was almost completely emptied from the lubrication system on the day of the crash.

At this point, Sikorsky lawyer Robert Bell said Saul had gone too far in stating his case. Justice Richard LeBlanc instructed Saul to stick to the facts contained in Cougar’s statement of claim.

That statement of claim was filed in Newfoundland Supreme Court in June.

Sikorsky has yet to file a statement of defence. It did file an application saying the U.S. District Court in Connecticut is the proper venue for the lawsuit.

The hearing to decide which court has jurisdiction resumes this afternoon in St. John’s.
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Old 27th Nov 2010, 14:22
  #743 (permalink)  
 
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Having talked to local SAR crews, there is a rumour circulating that only one SAR Technician was on the second Cougar aircraft. Any one care to comment?
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Old 27th Nov 2010, 21:20
  #744 (permalink)  
 
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I believe that is the case.

Cougar were (and still) only contracted for one SAR helicopter, so a partial crew on the second aircraft dispatched shouldn't be a surprise, as its dispatch was more than could be expected.

What is a surprise is that first Cougar SAR aircraft loitered waiting for the second, putting the survivor at risk, either because it was unable to retrieve its SAR Tech or so as to transfer a crewman to the second helicopter (even though the military Cormorants were on their way).

THis was the second accident in 2009 where Cougar's SAR servive came into question (the other being the GOM S-76, where despite being contracted by Shell and other oil companies, the VIH Cougar S-61 did not respond).
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Old 28th Nov 2010, 11:30
  #745 (permalink)  
 
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Today's shock news came in an announcement from the commissioner that no one had bother to mention a previous fatal helicopter accident off Newfoundland, almost exactly 24 years to the day earlier.
The parties, which included Sikorsky, who has remained silent throught the inquiry and contributed no data, analysis or suggestions on the subject of improving offshore safety, also failed to mention that one week after that fatal accident in Newfoundland in 1985 there was a ditching of an S-61 off Halifax after a total MGB oil loss. Fortunately all survived.

On March 20, 1985, an Okanagan Heliocpters S-61N (C-GOKZ) ditched in the Atlantic Ocean off of Owl's Head, Nova Scotia. The aircraft was enroute from the MODU Sedco 709 offshore Nova Scotia to the Halifax International Airport(YHZ)when it suffered total loss of transmission fluid from the Main Gear Box. There were 15 passengers and 2 crew on board. There were no injuries during the ditching, however several passengers suffered from varying degrees of hypothermia.

Rather pertinent?!
I've also heard suggestions of an AS332 ditching off the Atlantic coast of Canada in the 1980s.
Does any one know more details on either?
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Old 29th Nov 2010, 15:42
  #746 (permalink)  
 
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Squib;

Squib;

Bear in mind that my memory ages as much as I do.

The 332L ditching offshore Newfoundland in the mid 80's was operated by Sealand Helicopters, s/n 2016, C-GSLB.

On approach to an offshore rig, (three attempts, no visual, go home) third approach was underway when PNF called "rig visual" and PF momentarily diverted from the dials and in that short time a high rate of descent occurred and while trying to recover, the a/c struck the water. Luckily, floats saved the day, crew/pax and a/c.

Unfortunately, this was before TSB Canada reports became available online.

carholme
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Old 1st Dec 2010, 04:24
  #747 (permalink)  
 
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Update on S-92 gearbox housing foot cracks:

Root cause of S-92 gearbox cracks remains elusive

US and European regulators say a new and improved main gearbox mounting structure for the Sikorsky S-92A continues to exhibit the cracking problems that plagued an earlier design.
In a new amendment to a 2009 airworthiness directive that requires operators of S-92A heavylift twin-engined helicopters to inspect the mounting feet every 10h, both the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency have added the inspection requirement to a modified main gearbox housing that was designed to eliminate the cracking problem.
EASA has mandated that the checks take place before the first flight of each day or at 10h intervals, whichever is first.
"This new housing configuration is added to the applicability of this AD because it is prone to the same cracks as the [main gearbox] listed in the current AD," says the FAA. Sikorsky is still investigating the root cause of these cracks, it adds. "Contributing factors may include corrosion and the bushing press fit in the mounting foot bolt hole," the FAA says.
The new design included a modification to the main gearbox foot pads and the addition of a six-stud attachment for the main gearbox oil filter, a problem area that could be linked to a fatal 2009 ditching of a Cougar Helicopters S-92 en route to an oil platform off the coast of Newfoundland.
In that accident, Canadian investigators found that two of the three titanium filter bowl attachment studs had broken, possibly allowing the main gearbox oil to drain and causing the tail rotor to drive to fail. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board has not yet released its final report on the accident in which 17 passengers and crew died.
The FAA says failure of the mounting feet could cause loss of the main gearbox and "subsequent loss of control of the helicopter".
The agency says the actions in the AD are "interim" until the root cause of the cracking is determined. "After that determination, we anticipate further rulemaking," the FAA says.
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Old 1st Dec 2010, 21:36
  #748 (permalink)  
 
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On approach to an offshore rig, (three attempts, no visual, go home) third approach was underway when PNF called "rig visual" and PF momentarily diverted from the dials and in that short time a high rate of descent occurred and while trying to recover, the a/c struck the water.
For those reading this who wonder if lessons have been learned - well yes - in my company (and many others I believe) - when the PNF calls 'visual' in the latter stages of an ARA the PNF then takes control and lands while the PF (now the PNF) stays on instruments.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 23:01
  #749 (permalink)  
 
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Helicopter's redesigned main gearbox still prone to cracks

Improvements to the main gearbox of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter — the same model that crashed off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador last year, killing 17 people — haven't solved the problem of cracking foot mounts.
Last month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority expanded its previous airworthiness directive to include regular inspections of the new main gearbox assembly that is prone to the same cracks and corrosion as the old assembly.
It directs S-92 operators to continue inspecting the main gearbox mounting foot pad and rib for cracks and corrosion every 10 flight hours.
An S-92 helicopter crashed 55 kilometres east of St. John's in March 2009 while ferrying workers to Newfoundland's oilfields. Only one of the 18 people on board survived.
Since the crash, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., has redesigned the S-92's main gearbox lubrication system.
Among the changes, the company replaced the three-stud oil filter attachment with a six-stud filter attachment.
"Since we issued the first (airworthiness directive), we found out that the main gearbox assembly and housing that has the six-stud attachment is prone to the same cracks as the one listed in the other (directive)," said Les Dorr, FAA spokesman in Washington.
"Sikorsky is still looking into the root cause, but we needed to take action to expand the AD to those main gearbox assemblies as well."
The pilots of the ill-fated Flight 491 reported a loss of oil pressure in the main gearbox as they were transporting offshore workers to the White Rose and Hibernia oilfields March 12, 2009.
Minutes after the pilots turned back to St. John's, the helicopter plunged into the ocean and sank.
Weeks later, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said two of three mounting studs broke in flight resulting in a loss of oil from the lubrication system.
Those studs attach the oil filter assembly to the main gearbox.
Without them, oil can leak out of the main gearbox, which powers the helicopter's rotor drive.
Sikorsky is still investigating the root cause of cracks in the main gearbox mounting feet.
Contributing factors may include corrosion and the bushing press fit in the mounting foot bolt hole, said the FAA directive issued Nov. 19.
The actions specified by this directive are intended to prevent the loss of the main gearbox and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.
If S-92 operators discover a crack, the directive instructs them to replace the main gearbox before the next flight.
If corrosion, bubbled paint or paint discoloration are detected, the main gearbox must be repaired before the next flight.
Dorr said the FAA will be notified once the root cause is determined.




Any one got any more on the 1985 S-61?
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Old 4th Dec 2010, 03:26
  #750 (permalink)  
 
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Any one got any more on the 1985 S-61?
Back then there was a Tee fitting that supplied oil pressure to the torque meter as well as the inputs from the emergency lube system. On the incident a/c this fitting cracked and allowed all the oil, including that supplied from the emergency lube sump/pump to be pumped overboard. As anyone who is familiar with the system on the 61 can tell you, if there is no oil for the inputs they will fry in a matter of seconds.

Okanagan subsequently removed this tee fitting from all their a/c.
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Old 4th Dec 2010, 16:56
  #751 (permalink)  
 
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You would think Sikorsky would have been really focused on all the ways oil could be lost, especially the appendages, like the filter among others.
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Old 8th Dec 2010, 23:43
  #752 (permalink)  
 
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"You would think Sikorsky would have been really focused on all the ways oil could be lost, especially the appendages, like the filter among others"

squib66,

The problem is not just with Sikorsky, it happens at Rolls-Royce too. Structural failure in an oil system component is apparently the root cause of the catastrophic uncontained turbine failure on the Qantas A380's Trent 900 engine.

riff_raff
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Old 22nd Dec 2010, 17:07
  #753 (permalink)  
 
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squib66,

The problem is not just with Sikorsky, it happens at Rolls-Royce too. Structural failure in an oil system component is apparently the root cause of the catastrophic uncontained turbine failure on the Qantas A380's Trent 900 engine.

riff_raff
At least RR's response to a non-fatal accident with an Australian aircraft was quicker than Sikorsky's.

I've been shown some notes from the 2008 S-92 Operator's conference (that came after the Brrome event). There was apparently no mention of that serious incident directly but that there had been multiple stud failiures at that time. Is that really true?

Below are the (second-hand) notes from that conference. Most of the effort seems to be to solve the problems Shell had in Brunei.

A dedicated team has been appointed to resolve main gearbox issues:
  • New chip detectors are to be wired separately from high oil temp warning.
  • Transmission testing is being conducted with a transmission position at various attitudes rather than the traditional flat plane.
  • Oil filter housing studs which have been failing are to be replaced with steel studs.
  • Main gearbox Vespel spline issues are still NOT resolved. Two new design concepts to be released for test.
  • Transmission oil pump check valves are to be removed to lower gearbox oil temperature when a Vespel spline fails.
  • Adding a “main gear box oil pump” caution to cockpit enunciator panel
Does anyone know where S-92 MGB s/n 173-00040 is now? Its just that was run without oil for 2 mins less that the Cougar gearbox and then put back into service.
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Old 22nd Dec 2010, 23:28
  #754 (permalink)  
 
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Broome was pretty much low profile compared to Brunei it seems.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 00:05
  #755 (permalink)  
 
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Does anyone know where S-92 MGB s/n 173-00040 is now? Its just that was run without oil for 2 mins less that the Cougar gearbox and then put back into service.
Hi Squib66 that’s what I was wondering back in post no 618. The attitude at the time (Pre Cougar) could well have been, “No worries mate these girls can run for 1/2 hr without oil"
This appeared to be a common misconception at the time. Still its probably been thru OH by now.

Take care everybody and safe flying in 2011.

Last edited by poppahymen; 2nd Jan 2011 at 21:19.
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Old 31st Dec 2010, 17:32
  #756 (permalink)  
 
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squib

Having done some checking, it is ironic that the whistleblower is a guy who successfully had a discipline charge aginst him overturned by a federal review board. His alleged 'crime' - working late in the office!

From what is published we can't be certain but it is highly likely that a proportion of the ADs relate to Sikorsky products. Certainly the FAA found that EASA beat them to a couple of EADs on the S-92A after the accident when the Europeans made it clear they were not prepared to keep waiting for the FAA.

The fact it goes back 7 years is of interest. That was the time the S-92 was certified.

It was also the time that the Rotorcraft Directorate, for geographic reasons, were in charge of the Eclipse fixed wing certification. FAA had to rush through a special investigation on that in 2008 after congress got interested in the obvious failings. Oronically that happened about the same time as they SHOULD have been focused on Broome.

FAA employees raised concerns about Eclipse certification: AINonline

AOPA Online: FAA, Congress revisit Eclipse 500 certification

Press Release – FAA Agrees with Eclipse Certification Review Recommendations


poppahymen

Very little has been said by CHC about the Broome incident either.
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Old 2nd Jan 2011, 03:27
  #757 (permalink)  
 
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poppahymen,

While I can't speak specifically about the main gearbox in question, in general, anytime a main gearbox is run under loss of lube conditions it should be taken out of service and overhauled. Critical components like gears, sprags and bearings will likely need to be replaced.

Gearbox components like gears and bearings are designed to sustain 30 minutes of operation under loss of lube conditions without structural failure. But that does not mean they are fit for service after just a few minutes of operation with loss of lube. Gears can sustain scoring damage with less than a minute of loaded operation with inadequate lubrication.

riff_raff
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Old 2nd Jan 2011, 04:31
  #758 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by rif raf
Gearbox components like gears and bearings are designed to sustain 30 minutes of operation under loss of lube conditions without structural failure
Did I just read that comment (in the context of this thread,) or am I dreaming?
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Old 2nd Jan 2011, 05:21
  #759 (permalink)  
 
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Quote:
Gearbox components like gears and bearings are designed to sustain 30 minutes of operation under loss of lube conditions without structural failure
Did I just read that comment (in the context of this thread,) or am I dreaming?

It's not the first time he has made this ridiculous statement.


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Old 3rd Jan 2011, 00:25
  #760 (permalink)  
 
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Another case of "though shall not drink and post"

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