Limited Super Puma Flights Resume
At least one operator in the North Sea has resumed flights with a Eurocopter Super Puma helicopter this week, the BBC reported on Tuesday, though it's a different model from the one that crashed into the sea on Aug. 23, killing four passengers. That Super Puma was on a normal approach to landing until about three miles from the runway, according to a preliminary report from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, "when there was a reduction in airspeed accompanied by an increased rate of descent." The helicopter was "intact and upright" when it crashed into the sea about two miles offshore. Fourteen passengers and the pilot survived.
Operators had voluntarily grounded the fleet, which comprises more than half of the aircraft serving the offshore oil industry in the UK. Bristow, an offshore helicopter operator, has resumed flying with a Super Puma AS332 L, a slightly different model from the L2 that crashed. Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said on Friday it doesn't think the accident was caused by an airworthiness or technical problem, according to Reuters, and the agency supported the operator's decision to resume flights. However, the AAIB said it didn't yet know what had caused the accident. The cockpit voice and data recorder was recovered last week. Industry unions have called for caution in using the fleet, noting that Super Pumas have been involved in five incidents since 2009.