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AS332L2 Ditching off Shetland: 23rd August 2013

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AS332L2 Ditching off Shetland: 23rd August 2013

Old 25th Aug 2013, 18:00
  #221 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Helicomparator - that was an excellent and perceptive set of posts, not rants at all. Thank you.
I'll second that, including the thank you!
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 18:22
  #222 (permalink)  
 
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HC.

Excellent posts.

The problem is exacerbated by managers who believe that they are working for an oil service company, not an airline. I heard of one senior HR manager who was horrified to discover that Training Captains had access to other pilots training records. What about Data protection?

Last edited by Tractor_Driver; 25th Aug 2013 at 19:07.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 18:37
  #223 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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All a company has to do is to write a manual of instructions and procedures for employees to follow, and Bob's your uncle.
HC, I wholeheartedly agree with your posts - they are not rants - I have watched it happen over the years, and indeed, fought a successful rearguard action to try to prevent it for a while! I ultimately lost when I was bought out by a much larger operation who liked the golden eggs but promptly killed the goose they bought by insisting on 'proper' management
When companies finally realise that their employees are their most valuable resource,
yes, and could I add 'their employees knowledge and experience' to that?
Stage two of the 'write the procedure' school of management is, when it finally dawns on them that all the people who knew anything have gone, is the "We'll get all our detailed design, manufacture, testing, etc, etc done outside, it's much more cost-effective" so they do, and they pay vast sums of money, and they will eventually get a product. But guess what?
a) they can't support it in-house and
b) they have now paid other people to acquire all that skill and knowledge who can sell it again and again, possibly to their competitors and, when they want a new product they pay out again!

But hey - it's an ill wind and all that, guess what I do for a living these days...
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 18:47
  #224 (permalink)  
 
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Living dangerously here, but when I see people die as the result of an "incident/accident", my blood pressure rises.

My worry us that the standard response to a problem these days seems to be to surround it in paperwork, rubber stamps and signatures in triplicate.

That way, the problem becomes so mired in audit trails, and all the other buzz words that are so beloved of bean counters and backside protectors, its unlikely that anyone other than a masochist will ever get to the bottom of what the original problem is, as it is now surrounded by so much irrelevant bureaucracy that making sense of the issue becomes many times more complicated than it ever used to be.

I've read a number of threads in different areas here today, and the underlying and scarily common theme seems to be the dilution of real skills and replacement of those skills by SOP's, or CAM's or just plain straightforward mountains of paper than obfuscate the problem so that it loses it's significance and urgency, until of course a significant number of people die. Then, all manner of mountains of paper are dragged out and examined to try and determine which aspect of the supervisory system failed and allowed the problem to continue.

Far better to fix the problem in the first place. A friend recently commented that the aircraft wasn't fit to fly if the weight of the paperwork was not greater than the weight of the airframe. Having seen some of the mountain that is now needed to do something like a lease return, I can believe it.

Does it make the industry safer? Does it save lives? Do we really learn from having 20 rubber stamp impressions on a piece of paper rather than one stamp at the end? Too much of what is being justified as supervision is now regrettably only backside protection to make sure that someone else can be blamed or worse when the unthinkable happens. That's not a safety culture, that's a defence against ambulance chasing legal eagles that would be better employed doing something productive.

Not a good scenario, not al all. I just hope that this the ultimate cause of this tragic event wasn't a known issue that was mired in obscurity in order to allow "the system" to carry on operating.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 19:40
  #225 (permalink)  
 
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Everyone throwing statitics around here about the SP
Wonder how many helicopters (of all makes and models) have had catastrophic structual or mechanical failure on 2NM final in IMC over the last 20 years?
Wonder how many helicopters have made CFIT in last 3NM of approach to minimums over the last 20 years?
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 19:41
  #226 (permalink)  
 
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Are there any helicopters that have a system to slow descent in the event of a gearbox or rotor failure? Given the air industry builds redundancy into their critical systems, its always struck me that the helicopter gearbox/drive shaft is a system where redundancy seems to have been deliberately ignored - I presume there's no practical solution, is there?

My thoughts go to the friends and families of all those involved.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 19:48
  #227 (permalink)  
 
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Are there any helicopters that have a system to slow descent in the event of a gearbox or rotor failure?
There were plans for exploding bolts on main rotors followed by crew ejector seats and an airframe parachute but if you've worked on helis then you'll probably understand why these ideas were shelved, but they were tested - looong ago.

Its about the only thing I know that could slow descent in the event of catastrophic gearbox or rotor failure!
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 19:52
  #228 (permalink)  
 
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I am particularly interested in the point raised about the window sizes.

The L2 has the small middle windows which are roughly Sikorsky size and larger ones at the front and back corners.

The EC225 has big beauties all the way along the fuselage and I am really looking foward to sitting beside those shortly.

The AW189, again, has big beauties all along the fuselage.

Having a decent-sized jettisonable door right in the middle of each side of the aircraft also seems like a good plan from the swimming passengers' point of view. You got in at the middle so just head back the way you came and whichever way you turn there'll be a big door. Sorted.

-----------------------------

Now here's a problem with modern design that has been annoying me for the whole 16 years since I first had to deal with it. There are a number of international standards for the size of vehicles and various other products. I had to design roll-over protection for an eight-wheel-drive vehicle back in the 20th century. I followed the ISO standard for the vehicle class, and a large person with arctic clothing, and ended up with a roll-over bar with its highest point 20mm lower than the top of my head. Oops.

Why?

The stats were for a 95% confidence level based on the entire world population. North European males often fall outside that range.

The windows in the L2 door or the S-92: are they Chinese-large?
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:02
  #229 (permalink)  
 
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UKpaxman, no not really. I am presuming you mean some sort of ballistic recovery system as fitted to some light aircraft. The trouble with many of these ideas (apart from cost and weight) is the risk of inadvertent deployment. Parachutes and rotor blades don't mix well together!

Despite these accidents, and lets remember that only 1 was a catastrophic failure (because I don't think the injury pattern of this latest event points to catastrophic failure) in all the Super Puma operations since 1982 (on UK side). A ballistic recovery system would have to be incredibly reliable to suffer less than 1 inadvertent deployment in that time. Also you would of course have to stop or jettison the rotors before deployment. Scary!
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:10
  #230 (permalink)  
 
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jimf671. The doors on all Pumas are the result of the original French Army requirement that the Puma would be low enough to go into a Transall and narrow enough to be transported on a French railway truck. The Pumas have been saddled with that restriction over decades.

When you climb into a 747/737/A320 and sit in a seat with lots of legroom that has the escape exits by it the hostie will ask you to familiarise yourself with the operation of the said door in case you have to operate it in an emergency. The escape and dunking drills I have done, both military and civil in different continents have also emphasised this detail. I find it very strange that with this accident that one main door was not jettisoned thereby trapping people inside.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:11
  #231 (permalink)  
 
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Jimf, the L2 has large windows front and back, and the central jettisonable doors. That just leaves 1 pair of windows towards the front, and 1 pair at the back, that are the smaller variety.

However, in an event such as we have just seen, its probably too difficult to jettison the main cabin doors, and pax will use the smaller door windows instead. I think there is scope for making door jettison easier in extremis, or even automatic, but of course one always has to guard against inadvertent deployment.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:23
  #232 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks for the replies.

I guess the point I'm making is that I can't think of another form of civilian transport that places 100% reliance on something as complex as a gearbox with no redundancy in the event of a catastrophic failure.

I completely agree with what's been said above about the practicality or reliability of such systems, but I'm sure the boffins could design something to at least help slow the descent.

Tragic though the latest accident was, the failure happened at probably the most opportune point in the whole flight given the reasonably sheltered location, altitude and speed, proximity to sumburgh and prevailing wind. A few seconds later and the outcome would have been so much worse.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:26
  #233 (permalink)  
 
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The obvious answer is rearcrew/cabin attendant/door slider but that is wasted payload and lost revenue as far as bean counters are concerned.
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:34
  #234 (permalink)  
 
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Ukpaxman, I would disagree with your point about lack of redundancy for civilian transport systems. You only have to look at the greatest transport killer - road transport. One driver with minimal initial and no recurrent training, opposite direction separation distances of a few feet with fatal consequences if separation becomes zero. One steering wheel held on by 1 nut, etc etc.

The P&J routinely feature fatal road accidents, we seem to have had a spate of them this month. They make the news, then are forgotten the next day. But one heli accident killing fewer than those killed on the roads of Grampian for a month, is a major catastrophe that dominates the news for days or weeks and brings calls for grounding etc. It just doesn't bear logical analysis.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:48
  #235 (permalink)  
 
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Fair point HC, although it was more the design element I was referring to. The whole helicopter gearbox/drive shaft design issue is something that's niggled at me ever since the chinook disaster.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:53
  #236 (permalink)  
 
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... would be a very unlucky place to have a “catastrophic loss of power”.
Or a very unlucky place to be compelled to enter auto.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 20:53
  #237 (permalink)  
 
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This is intended for those "bears" and non-pilots, of whom some are jumping to conclusions based on very little or nothing.

I have many years and many thousands of hours flying the various helicopter types which transport you to and from your offshore workplaces.

On a few occasions over the decades I have been required to fly as a passenger in the cabin and I've never greatly enjoyed the experience. I'll go further and admit that when wind and weather conditions are rough, I feel at least a little apprehensive. It's quite different from sitting up front and feeling that I have some control over my fate. So I sympathise.

But whereas you might do some 10 return flights in a year, I do about 200 and because I recognise that no flying can ever be risk-free, my quota of apprehension about remotely-possible emergencies probably adds up to much the same as yours i.e. we can both ascribe a similar number of grey hairs each year to the stress of flying.

But I do enjoy the job and probably most of us accept that this industry affords us a good income in return for a modicum of risk. Having said all this, it fills me with sadness whenever someone dies and especially if it could have been avoided.

Now to my final point; an anology. You're driving your Mondeo along a road and come upon a serious accident involving another Mondeo. Or maybe it wasn't even you, but a family member of yours who told you about the accident. Either way, does it make sense to immediately get rid your Mondeo and join a clamour for all Mondeos to be recalled, before anyone knows the cause?

It might have been a deer that caused the car to swerve. All we pilots and other helicopter support staff ask is for some common sense. Mondeos, like all makes of cars get involved in accidents which arise from numerous causes. Please consider helicopters in the same light.

Apart from last year's two EC225 ditchings, there is no common theme in these random accidents affecting the Super Puma family. In March 2009, an S92 had an awful accident off Newfoundland and another came perilously close to disaster from the same cause in Australia.

Excluding the above examples where common causes were identified, random means exactly what it says and the only way to almost eliminate risk is to stay in bed.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 21:01
  #238 (permalink)  
 
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HC, another good point. No death is acceptable but your point about the casualty rates on the Aberdeenshire roads is very valid. Aberdeenshire has one of the worst accident rates in the whole of the UK but you don't hear calls for the ban of fast cars bought by wealthy oil workers after every fatal accident. Sorry, off topic I know but where is Bob Crowe and his muckers when this happens so frequently?
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 21:02
  #239 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Why not just designate the pax sitting closest to the door jettison handle as being responsible for its operation in an emergency ??, a simple tap on the shoulder by the despatcher or HLO should do it. Why not make it part of the outbrief too ??

As someone who flies offshore for a living I am quite happy to fly on any aircraft the pilot says is safe, I am as saddened as any at recent events but knee jerk reactions help no one. I trust you guys and its pretty clear from this thread that you take your responsibilities very seriously. The vast majority of guys I work with feel the same and are happy to fly if you are. I know from my time in light blue that all aircraft have their problems, fundamentally I think the Puma variants are safe, been flying in the back of them for over ten years and never had a problem.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 21:19
  #240 (permalink)  
 
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Helicomparator, in one of his excellent posts, says that oil companies have an obsesion with minimizing helicopter transport costs. So helicopter operators in the UK are competing with each other to win a contract. Low bid wins? If too many of UK aircraft are off line because of a possible defect, where will the oil companies find transport offshore? The UK operators may no longer be able to meet requirements.

Is there any reason they could not approach a Norwegian operator to provide this service?
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