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EXCLUSIVE: Four North Sea Helicopters Fail Tail Rotor Inspection

Published in Oil Industry News on Friday, 13 January 2017

Graphic for News Item: EXCLUSIVE: Four North Sea Helicopters Fail Tail Rotor Inspection

Oil and Gas People broke the story earlier this week how all North Sea S92 helicopters were temporarily grounded to allow an examination to be conducted of each aircrafts tail rotor assembly.

Image Credit: Erling Johnsen / NRK

The temporary grounding was mandated by manufacturer Sikorsky in an Alert Service Bulletin and comes during the investigation into a CHC S92 that spun on the helideck of the West Franklin Platform, taking gouges out of the helideck and damaging the aircrafts landing gear.


Oil and Gas People also broke the Air Accident Investigation Branch's preliminary findings into the West Franklin Incident, which gave the following details regarding the cause of the incident: "Once the panels were removed it was immediately apparent that the tail rotor servo piston was damaged. The servo was removed and revealed that the tail rotor pitch change shaft (TRPCS) double row angular contact bearing was in a severely distressed condition"

Oil and Gas People can now reveal that four other aircraft in the North Sea fleet have failed their inspections as follows:

Three Babcock S92s have been affected

One CHC S92 has been affected

Zero Bristows S92s have been affected

All four affected aircraft operated in the UK sector with Norwegian S92's reporting zero failed inspections.

A spokesperson for Babcock stated: "Babcock has completed the required inspections on the whole of its S92 fleet. As a result of the inspection findings, three bearings have been returned to Sikorsky for evaluation.

All aircraft are subject to a full testing programme ahead of their return to service."

The revelation comes amid ongoing controversy between offshore workers as to whether the Sikorsky S92 is indeed the correct replacement for the North Seas grounded Super Puma fleet. 

A spokesperson for Sikorsky gave the following statement: 

"Physical inspections of the tail rotor pitch change shaft bearing are well underway with over 250 aircraft inspected. Sikorsky has been reviewing HUMS data from those aircraft as well. A small number of parts are being returned to Sikorsky for additional evaluation. These findings do not constitute failure of the bearing and are being returned to Sikorsky for further evaluation. Sikorsky continues to work closely with our supply chain on replacement parts and is coordinating those activities with our Customers."

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