G-REDW ditching incident

At 12.13pm on 10 May 2012, a Eurocopter EC225 helicopter (registration G-REDW) outbound from Aberdeen going to the Ensco102 Maersk Resilient platform made a controlled descent 24 nautical miles offshore.

The Captain and Co-pilot made the controlled descent and landed on the sea following standard operating procedures after the helicopter suffered a loss of gearbox oil pressure. The aircraft remained afloat and upright and the 12 passengers and 2 crew-members were safely recovered and returned to Aberdeen later that day.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has begun its investigation into the incident. This has identified a 360° circumferential crack in the bevel gear vertical shaft in the main gearbox, in the vicinity of a manufacturing weld, causing disengagement of the drive to both mechanical oil pumps.

The HSSG held a special meeting on Monday 14 May 2012 to share preliminary information and identify any potential early lessons. Making up the HSSG are helicopter operators, oil and gas operators and contractors, offshore trade unions, the pilots’ union BALPA, the regulators HSE and CAA and Oil & Gas UK.

The group awaits more information on this incident and will ensure any learning from this is shared across the industry. After the two helicopter accidents in 2009, Oil & Gas UK produced a 30-minute video which sought to address the workforce's concerns about flying. You can view 'Commuting by Air' here on the Step Change website.

More information on G-REDW

Below, you can find information on this incident which has been issued by the helicopter operators and other relevant authorities.

 

10 May 2012 Bond statement one doc

10 May 2012 Bond statement two doc Bond G-REDW Helicopter Passengers and Crew Reported Safe

10 May 2012 CHC safety alert docx

11 May 2012 Bristow statement doc

11 May 2012 Bond statement three doc Bond Eurocopter EC225 suspension

13 May 2012 Air Accidents Investigation Branch special bulletin pdf

13 May 2012 Bond statement four doc AAIB report consistent with Bond analysis

13 May 2012 Eurocopter Safety Information Notice pdf

15 May 2012 Bristow statement two doc

15 May 2012 CHC News statement docx

15 May 2012 Bond statement five doc Bond to re-establish flights

18 May 2012 EASA - Emergency Airworthiness Directive

18 May 2012 Bond statement six doc New EASA Airworthiness Directive on the EC225 Super Puma

19 May 2012 Bristow statement three doc

28 June 2012 EASA - Emergency Airworthiness Directive

13 July 2012 Air Accidents Investigation Branch Special Bulletin S3/2012 Update on progress of AAIB investigation

25 July 2012 Eurocopter statement Eurocopter puts forward their own explanation of AAIB's S3/2012 bulletin

17 October 2012 Air Accidents Investigation Branch Special Bulletin S5/2012 update on lubrication system warning light

25 October 2012 EASA - Emergency Airworthiness Directive

29 October 2012 CAA Safety Directive - prohibiting the use of certain helicopters for offshore transport

2 November 2012 Eurocopter Safety Information Notice

29 November 2012 AAIB Special Bulletin S7/2012

18 March 2013 AAIB Special Bulletin S2/2013 

9 May 2013 AAIB Special Bulletin S2/2013

G-CHCN ditching incident

On Monday 22 October 2012, the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma was on a planned flight from Aberdeen to the West Phoenix drilling rig, approximately 226 nm to the north. On board were 17 passengers and two crew.

At around 2.25pm, the crew were alerted to warning lights on the control panel, including a loss of main gearbox oil pressure. They then activated the main gearbox emergency lubrication system, but within a minute another warning light came on indicating failure of this system too.

The crew followed the correct procedures by then successfully landing the helicopter on the water, close to a ship. The passengers and crew evacuated the helicopter and boarded two life rafts before being rescued by fast rescue craft and transported to the ship. There were no reported injuries.

 

Suspension of flights and re-introduction of others

Initial findings from the ongoing investigation into the ditching of G-CHCN on 22 October have revealed similarities with the G-REDW ditching on 10 May. The investigations into both incidents have now been combined into a single enquiry.

The three main UK offshore helicopter operators, CHC, Bond and Bristow, took an aligned decision to impose a precautionary, temporary self-imposed suspension on all Super Puma aircraft.

Based on new information in the investigation, the helicopter operators have together decided to return specific Super Puma aircraft to flight. The aircraft being returned to service, as of Friday 26 October 2012, include certain AS332L, L1 and L2 variants. The EC225 model remains suspended for the time being.

Download a Q&A explaining why the EC225 remains suspended

 

Background and technical information

Eurocopter have provided the HSSG with detailed background and technical information and images. In addition, the HSSG compiled a list of questions from its members and the workforce. You can download Eurocopter's answers below.

Download a Eurocopter technical presentation

Download Eurocopter's answers to the HSSG's questions

Visit the Eurocopter website for more information on the ditching incidents

At the request of safety reps, Eurocopter have also created this 5-minute video which explains the manufacturing process of the bevel gear vertical shaft:

 

If you can't view the above YouTube video, you should be able to view and download it here.  

 

Further information

Below, you can find information on this incident which has been issued by the helicopter operators and other relevant authorities.

22 October 2012 CHC statement

22 October 2012 Bristow statement

22 October 2012 Bond statement

23 October 2012 CHC statement

23 October 2012 Bristow statement - continued suspension of flights

23 October 2012 Bond flight statement

24 October 2012 Bond delay return to service

24 October 2012 HSSG meets to discuss latest North Sea ditching incident

24 October 2012 Bond in discussions with other operators

24 October 2012 AAIB Special Bulletin S6/2012

25 October 2012 EASA - Emergency Airworthiness Directive

25 October 2012 Bond work to re-establish flights

26 October 2012 Bond limited flights

26 October 2012 Bond SAR in action

29 October 2012 CAA Safety Directive - prohibiting the use of certain helicopters for offshore transport

2 November 2012 Eurocopter Safety Information Notice

6 November 2012 Bond flight status

6 November 2012 CHC - Specific Super Pumas return to service

8 November 2012 Bond returns all AS332L2 to service 

22 November 2012 Eurocopter - Safety Information Notice

22 November 2012 Eurocopter - Emergency Alert Service Bulletin

29 November 2012 AAIB Special Bulletin S7/2012

15 January 2013 CHC - Q&A on EC225 maintenance flights 

5 March 2013 Customer update from Eurocopter and helicopter operator CEOs 

18 March 2013 AAIB Special Bulletin S2/2013 

9 May 2013 AAIB Special Bulletin S2/2013

2 July 2013 Eurocopter Safety Information Notice