A senior Norwegian accident investigation official said the April 29 crash of an EC225LP that killed 13 people was due to technical failure and not human error, according to two press reports.
Norway's Accident Investigation Board held a press conference at 3 p.m. local time at the Haakonsvern naval base in Bergen to provide an update on its probe of the Airbus Helicopters/CHC Helikopter Service medium-twin helicopter. Wreckage of the helicopter, which CHC was operating under contract for the Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil at the time of the crash, is being examined and stored at the naval base.
Reuters news agency quoted that board's aviation department director, Kaare Halvorsen, telling the press conference today: "We are as certain as we can be that a technical error caused the accident. We don't think it was due to human misinterpretations."
Another news agency, Agence France Presse, cited Halvorsen saying: "Based on the facts we have, it was a technical failure. It was not human error."
Halvorsen reportedly confirmed statements by CHC that its two pilots, who were ferrying 11 passengers to Bergen from Statoil’s Gullfaks B rig 100 nm northwest in the North Sea, did not transmit any emergency calls before the crash.
A statement ruling out causes so early in an accident investigation is generally considered premature. In addition to the aircraft’s wreckage and radio transmission, its combined cockpit voice and flight data has been recovered and read out by the U.K.'s Air Accidents Investigation Branch. The recordings have been returned to the Norwegian board, which reported that their “data is of good quality.” That is a standard accident investigator’s description for data that can be read and analyzed to help define the aircraft’s performance and crew comments and actions.
A video published after the crash appeared to show a five-bladed main rotor separated from a helicopter and failing through the sky near the crash scene.
Norway and the U.K. have banned the use of EC225LPs in public transport and commercial passenger flights pending the investigation’s work.