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North Sea News

Old 22nd Nov 2012, 12:14
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North Sea News

North Sea helicopter operator buys in Super Puma replacements



By FRANK URQUHART Published on Wednesday 21 November 2012

ONE of the North Sea’s three main helicopter companies has placed an order for ten new aircraft to help ease the crew change crisis caused by the grounding of the Super Puma EC225 fleet.

Bristow Helicopters is taking deliver of ten Sikorsky S92 helicopters with options for another 16 of the aircraft to supplement its operations across the globe.

All 16 EC225s operating in the North Sea - one-fifth of the entire fleet - are expected to remain out of service until at least February. They have been grounded since 22 October when a CHC-operated Super Puma EC225 was forced to ditch off Shetland. Another Super Puma EC225 ditched 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen in May. Bristow alone operates eleven EC225s in the UK,

Both ditchings have led to the discovery of “potentially catastrophic” mechanical failures in the gearbox - identical cracks near a weld in the main vertical gear shaft. In both cases, tests have shown identical problems which resulted in a false alarm being issued over a lubrication system failure.

A spokeswoman for Bristow said: “Bristow Helicopters is working hard to minimise, and ultimately eliminate, disruption for our clients and their passengers following the recent suspension from operation of some of the Eurocopter Super Pumas. In cooperation with our clients we have re-allocated and re-deployed the use of additional helicopters from our global fleet to support our operations in the North Sea.

“Additionally, and in response to the current situation, as well as the forecasted increasing global demand for large helicopters, we have secured available S92s from Sikorsky. We have ordered ten additional new Sikorsky S92 large aircraft for delivery in 2013 and 2014 together with options for 16 more for delivery between 2014 and 2017.

“Bristow is in on-going discussions with our clients on safely serving their current and future needs by ensuring the availability of helicopters.”

The order with Sikorsky is understood to be valued in the region of £170 million. According to Bristow, the safety alert issued following the Super Puma ditching is affecting eleven of the company’s EC225 helicopters in the UK, three EC225 helicopters in Australia, one EC225 helicopter in Norway and one AS332L2 helicopter in Nigeria.

The company said in a business statement: “An incident involving another operator and an EC225 helicopter in May 2012 that resulted in a similar directive did not have a material financial impact on our company. However, we are unable to determine whether this incident on 22 October and the resulting actions taken by the Civil Aviation Authority could have a material effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations at this time.”

North Sea helicopter operator buys in Super Puma replacements - Transport - Scotsman.com
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Old 22nd Nov 2012, 12:27
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Two Super Puma’s return to base after safety scares



Thursday 22 November 2012

Two Bond-operated Super Puma helicopters were at the centre of separate safety alerts over the North Sea today.

One of the helicopters was heading out to the platform where the 2009 Super Puma crash helicopter was headed The helicopters were forced to return to Aberdeen heliport this morning while on flights to a BP installation and a drilling rig.

Both Super Pumas are the earlier L2 models of the aircraft which are not affected by the current grounding of the EC225 models which have been involved in two ditchings since May. But one of the flights involved in today’s alerts was en route to BP’s Miller platform.

In April 2009, two pilots and 14 oilworkers on a Super Puma AS332L2 were killed when the aircraft, operated by Bond Helicopters, crashed into the North Sea while flying to the Miller platform after suffering a catastrophic gearbox failure.

A spokesman for Bond Helicopters said today: “Two flights this morning were returned to base. They went in for immediate inspection. The first flight that came back was checked and nothing wrong was found with it and it is being returned to service. “Both helicopters are L2s - the only version of the Super Pumas that Bond are flying at the moment. One was heading for the Miller platform and the other was heading for the the Borgholm Dolphin drilling rig.”

A helicopter industry source said that one of the alerts was sounded after an oilworker on board had reported hearing a “rattling” noise on the helicopter. Said the source: “Because of the recent incidents everybody is so keyed up that the slightest thing they hear they think there is a problem and for obvious safety reasons helicopters have to return to base.”

All 16 EC225s operating in the North Sea - one-fifth of the entire fleet - have been grounded since 22 October when a CHC-operated Super Puma EC225 was forced to ditch off Shetland. Another Super Puma EC225 ditched 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen in May. Both ditchings have led to the discovery of “potentially catastrophic” mechanical failures in the gearbox - identical cracks near a weld in the main vertical gear shaft.

A report into the fatal crash in 2009, published in November last year by the Air Accident Investigation Board, revealed that the the chopper disintegrated as it plummeted from 2,000ft into the North Sea at 170 knots, when its main rotor gearbox failed, its massive rotor blades ripping from the body of the aircraft and severing the tail.

The detailed report by the AAIB pinpointed a series of misunderstandings, mistakes and failures in communication that led to the root cause of the mechanical failure in the gearbox going undetected.

Two Super Puma
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Old 2nd Dec 2012, 19:47
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North Sea News

Norwegian government approves new North Sea oil fields


Norway's Grane platform which will initially support the work in the new Svalin fields

The Norwegian cabinet has given its approval for work to proceed in the new Svalin field. Svalin M was discovered in 2008 and its start-up is scheduled for the end of 2013. Svalin C was discovered in 1992 and its start-up is scheduled for summer 2014.

Recoverable reserves are estimated to about 75 million barrels of oil equivalent (12 million standard cubic metres o.e.). There are two structures, Svalin C and Svalin M, containing similar quantities.

The Svalin field lies about six kilometres south-west of the Grane platform at a water depth of 125 metres. The Svalin field development is one of Statoil’s fast-track developments. Statoil is operator with %57 ownership; Petoro (%30) and ExxonMobil (%13) are partners.

More
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Old 13th Dec 2012, 17:40
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North Sea News

Helicopter fault leaves workers stuck on North Sea rig


The Ensco 80 rig which is located 100 miles off the Norfolk coast

More than 90 workers have been stranded on a gas rig in the North Sea for two days after a helicopter broke down.

The aircraft has been on the Ensco 80 rig, 100 miles off the Norfolk coast, since Monday afternoon.

Operator Bond said it developed a technical problem and engineers were awaiting delivery of a part. Rig owner Ensco said there were 94 people on board the rig, four over its capacity, but there were enough lifeboats for 200 people.

An Ensco spokesman said the helicopter had been at the rig on a routine crew-change flight when it developed technical problems. "The pilots go through safety checks before they leave and obviously discovered a problem," he said.

The helicopter pilots were now on board the rig, he added. "There are 94 people on there. Our maximum persons-on-board is 90 but there are extenuating circumstances. "We hope to resolve the situation as soon as we can." He said there were enough supplies on board and that offshore workers were used to being stuck on rigs, sometimes for days on end, due to poor weather conditions.

Bond Offshore Helicopters confirmed the aircraft, an AgustaWestland AW139, had flown to the rig from Norwich Airport and developed a technical problem once it had landed. The company said the rig was 115 miles north-north-east of Norwich. "Engineers were dispatched and are currently examining the aircraft," it said in a statement. "Once the relevant part has been delivered and fitted, the aircraft will be returned to normal service."

The rig is operated by Perenco, which has declined to comment.

BBC News - Helicopter fault leaves workers stuck on North Sea rig
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Old 13th Dec 2012, 17:49
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G-REDK Mid-Flight Oil Pressure Warning Yesterday

A Bond owned Super Puma helicopter was escorted back to shore after an oil pressure warning light illuminated mid-flight. The aircraft had been returning from the Borgholm Dolphin at around 9.30am on Wednesday 12th December when the incident occurred.

Bond and CHC Super Puma helicopters forced to return to shore | Aberdeen & North | News | STV
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 21:10
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12 Dec 2012 - Bond & CHC Super Puma helicopters forced to return to shore.

Bond and CHC Super Puma helicopters forced to return to shore | Aberdeen & North | News | STV
Video on webpage

Two North Sea offshore helicopters have been involved in separate incidents which forced them to return to Aberdeen on Wednesday.

A Super Puma helicopter was escorted back to shore after an oil pressure warning light illuminated mid-flight. The Bond-owned aircraft had been returning from the Borgholm Dolphin at around 9.30am on Wednesday when the incident occurred.

At the time, 16 passengers and two crew were on board the Eurocopter manufactured craft.

After the warning light activated the aircraft’s pilot dropped 1000ft as a precaution and was escorted back to Aberdeen by a CHC owned helicopter to be met by emergency ground crew.

A spokesman for Bond said: “Bond Offshore Helicopters can confirm that one of its AS332L2 aircraft, registration G-REDK, landed safely at Aberdeen earlier yesterday with all passengers and crew disembarking normally.

“In line with standard procedure, emergency services were in attendance at Aberdeen airport as a precautionary measure, following notification that the crew had observed a standby pump warning light whilst en route. Engineers will examine the aircraft fully before it returns to service.”

The second incident involved a CHC Scotia helicopter, which was ferrying 15 people, with two crew, to the Elgin field, before the journey was aborted.

A spokesman for CHC helicopter said: "An AS332L2 flight made a non-emergency return to base after an indicator light came on in the cockpit.

"The aircraft landed safely at Aberdeen Airport just after 3pm and will be inspected by CHC engineers. There were 17 people on board."

RMT offshore organiser Jake Molloy said he was unhappy with the lack of transparency within the offshore helicopter industry.

He said: “I'm putting this to the Helicopter Safety Steering Group. What this highlights is that the communication process is not working. We should not be hearing this second-hand from concerned parties.

“I have heard that another two helicopters have developed technical problems today. Two flights are delayed.

“I am unhappy with people boarding these things without knowing what is going on. Our members are just being told that they have 'gone tech'. There should be openness and transparency.”

Last edited by SilsoeSid; 14th Dec 2012 at 21:11.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 23:32
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North Sea News

Don't we usually get the weather after the news?
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Old 15th Dec 2012, 06:57
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My oversight!

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Old 16th Dec 2012, 21:01
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Brilliant, Savoia.
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Old 16th Dec 2012, 21:29
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This might be more appropriate.. do listen - probably suits Brits who know the score.



Thank you SP.

Last edited by TRC; 17th Dec 2012 at 08:15.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 07:17
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Lol, excellent!
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 09:48
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Eurocopter to put EC225 through further tests


One of the EC255's which experienced technical difficulties in the North Sea

By FRANK URQUHART
Published on Wednesday 16 January 2013 12:30

EUROCOPTER which manufactures the North Sea helicopter at the centre of a dramatic offshore ditching in October is planning a further series of tests in a bid to finally identify the cause the incident, it was revealed today.

• Further tests planned on Eurocopter helicopters as root of fault still unclear

• “Potentially catastrophic” mechanical failure in gearbox had forced Super Puma EC225 model into North Sea ditching

• All Super Pumas, used to transport North Sea oil workers, have been grounded

The French manufacturer of the Super Puma EC225, has already carried out two series of tests to determine the cause of a “potentially catastrophic” mechanical failure in the gearbox of a Super Puma EC225 which was forced to ditch in the North Sea four months ago.

A crack in the main gear shaft was discovered after the chopper carried out a controlled ditching following indications of a failure of the main gearbox lubrication system and emergency lubrication system.

Eurocopter revealed in November that the warning of a lubrication system failure on the CHC-operated Super Puma was a false alarm - identical to the scenario in the ditching in May involving a Bond-operated Super Puma.

A spokesman for Eurocopter said today that further tests were still needed to positively identify the root cause.

He said: “For the past weeks, Eurocopter has continued to regularly communicate with oil and gas customers and operators and industry representatives concerning the EC225 main gearbox shaft failures, while respecting the confidentiality of the official accident investigation.

“The company has provided an overview of its approach to the root cause analysis performed during the past several weeks and has reported a most probable root cause. At this stage, this EC assumption has not been proven by tests.

“Based on this finding, Eurocopter has announced the launch of a third test campaign, to be initiated in late January, with more sophisticated evaluations that focus on the most probable cause. Bench test results are expected at the end of February. In addition, evaluations will continue on three alternative scenarios for the failures’ cause and all results will be shared with the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch.”

He added: “The overall methodology is also supported by an external company, Shainin Engineering, which participated in identifying the Airbus A380 wing crack issues.

“All 16 EC225s operating in the North Sea - one-fifth of the entire fleet - have been grounded since 22 October when the CHC-operated Super Puma EC225 was forced to ditch off Shetland. Another Super Puma EC225 ditched 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen in May.

More tests planned to identify mystery fault plaguing North Sea helicopters - Transport - Scotsman.com
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 10:07
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Try as they might, EC obviously cannot reproduce the fault. They have "hypotheses" but so far the link between the hypotheses and the failure is not established.

The EM Lub indication issue is rumoured to be fixed but of course activating the EM Lub is not really the answer with this failure mode.

Not looking good for a return anytime soon for EC's flagship helicopter, even with extra downloads and earlier propagation warnings.

Confidence is waning in EC's ability to fix this. I hope they have already started a parallel path of designing a more robust shaft.
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 14:52
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I looked on the websites of the usual suspects the other day and, although a couple of press reports have appeared about this, I couldn't find any original reports.

Where does Eurocopter announce this information?
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 15:02
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The back peddling, PR and other matters EC225 from Eurocopter is here:-

EC225
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 15:52
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Interesting that EC are outsourcing some of the investigative work. That must have hurt!
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 16:41
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HC,

When you off for your 92 course?
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 18:37
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OUCH!!!!!!
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 18:38
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Even though I would enjoy the laugh, it ain't going to happen!
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Old 17th Jan 2013, 18:59
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Whats an ESSninety2???

SAS - remember all that sympathy you had for the dear old Chinook when the nasty Shell man wielded his hideous axe....can you spare a bit for us Europhiles please??
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