Super Puma Offshore Ban To Be Lifted
The U.K. and Norway say they’ll soon lift a 17-month ban on the use of two models of Airbus Super Puma helicopters to service offshore oil operations. The H225LP and AS332L2 helicopters were taken off that kind of duty after a crash in April of 2016 in which the rotor blades separated from a Super Puma heading to a rig off Norway. The crash killed 13 workers and crew on the helicopter. Even though the government bans will be lifted, there might not be much work for the helicopters. Norway’s biggest oil company, Statoil, says it won’t use them anymore, and a survey of rig workers suggests most workers are opposed to the ban's being lifted and more than half say they’ll never get on a Super Puma again. CHC, the world’s largest helicopter company, has stopped using them.
The helicopters were actually cleared for flight by the European Aviation Safety Agency last October but the U.K. and Norway instituted their own ban on offshore flights. The ban is to be lifted after Airbus introduced new maintenance and inspection protocols for the big helicopters. “The safety of those who travel on offshore helicopter flights is a key priority for both the U.K. and Norwegian aviation authorities,” said John McColl, head of the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Agency. “We would not have made this decision unless we were convinced that the changes to the helicopters and their maintenance restore the required airworthiness standards."