Airbus Will Not Ground Super Puma Fleet

Published at 03:47PM - 15/07/16

The Airbus Group told media sources it will not scrap its Super Puma helicopter fleet as a result of the accident that killed 13 people in Norway.

The fleet, which is widely used in the offshore oil & gas industry, had been grounded for commercial use after the accident that killed everyone on board off Bergen, after the main rotor blades detached from the aircraft.

“There is overcapacity in the helicopter sector for supplying the oil and gas [sector] and I don’t anticipate that things will change in 2016 and in 2017”, the head of Airbus Helicopters, Guillaume Faury, said.

Airbus Will Not Ground Super Puma Fleet

Questions remain over the future of the civil version of the helicopter, which represents 80% of Airbus’ Super Puma programme.

Meanwhile, Norwegian investigators have ruled out human error in the accident and contacted European air safety authorities about a possible problem with the gearbox.

However, safety experts are saying it is too early to determine what caused the separation of the rotor blades.

CHC Operated Super Puma EC225 Offshore Helicopter
Super Puma EC225 Offshore Helicopter

According to Faury, Airbus is trying to get to the root cause of the problem amidst a real crisis in the use of commercial helicopters in the oil and gas sector.

Despite the rebound in oil prices, he said, demand for helicopters in the sector remains low and companies continue to have to cut costs.

In fact, he says, the helicopter sector is facing oversupply, a situation which is meant to continue throughout this year and into 2017.

The Super Puma Crash: A Timeline

On the 29th of April, a H225 aircraft operated by CHC was involved in a fatal accident outside Bergen, killing 11 people.

On May 1, authorities decided to put commercial passenger flights using Super Puma helicopters on hold in Norway and in the UK.

In end-May, Airbus met with AIB Norway to discuss possible scenarios that could explain the detachment of the main rotor.

In end-June, Airbus announced it is continuing to work towards identifying the accident root cause.

“In parallel, we are putting precautionary measures in place to support our global customers and address potential initiating events,” the company said in a statement.

Airbus Super Puma EC225 Helicopter Infographic
Airbus Super Puma EC225 Helicopter Infographic
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