CHC will no longer fly Airbus Helicopters Super Pumas from its North Sea support base in Aberdeen, Scotland, unless customers specifically request that aircraft type, according to published reports.
The BBC and Energy Voice
cited a statement from the beleaguered helicopter operator that, since 13 people died in the April 29 crash
of one of its EC225s in Norway, it has "engaged closely with our H225 customers about the immediate term but also looking forward to the future." It added that "we must understand, accept and respond to their operational requirements and wishes."
The operator said its decision on the H225s (Airbus' new brand for Super Pumas) was "commercially driven."
The Super Puma has been the focus of union, political and public criticism in the North Sea operating area since at least 2009. On April 1 that year, according to the U.K. Air Accident Investigations Branch, the main gearbox on a Bond Offshore
AS332L2 disintegrated in flight. That led to the helicopter's crash off Peterhead, Scotland, which killed two pilots and 14 passengers.
Since the April 29 crash in Norway, more than 27,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority to revoke the airworthiness certificates for the Airbus 225 Super Puma and to have such aircraft "permanently removed from service."
In the April 29 accident, Norway's Accident Investigation Board is probing what led the EC225's main rotor to separate in flight from the aircraft, which plunged to the ground and waters west of Bergen, killing the 11 passengers and two pilots on board. That board on June 1 cited initial indications of fatigue failure
in a component of the helicopter's main gear box and called on Norway's civil aviation authority (CAA) to ground all H225 flights.
The next day, that CAA and the U.K.'s grounded all such flights, including search and rescue ones. An earlier grounding issued after the accident had permitted SAR flights.
In saying that it no longer plans to fly Super Pumas, CHC said it remains "committed to having a resilient, mixed fleet that provides the right aircraft at the right time to meet our customers' helicopter service requirements." It added, "In the future, when the H225 fleet returns to service and customers wish to fly the aircraft, we will appropriately adjust the mix of aircraft in our fleet."