The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) released an interim Service Bulletin this morning regarding the investigation into the controlled ditching of a North Sea crew change helicopter owned by Bond Helicopter Ltd.
The bulletin states that, “An initial visual inspection of the main gearbox has identified a 360° circumferential crack on the bevel gear vertical shaft, in the vicinity of the weld that joins the two sections. As a consequence of this failure, the main and standby oil pump gears ceased to be driven. During this inspection pump gears ceased to be driven. During this inspection it was observed that the lower part of the vertical shaft was displaced downwards by 6 mm.”
This preliminary engineering investigation is consistent with Bond Helicopters’ engineering analysis.
Bond Helicopters insists their maintenance procedures are of the highest standards with safety being the company’s principal concern at all times. Bill Munro, Managing Director of Bond Offshore Helicopters said, ”The skill and training of Bond’s pilots has been witnessed at first hand. Our passengers can be confident in Bond as the principal crew change operator in the North Sea”.
In the light of the AAIB interim Service Bulletin Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd. will continue the flight suspension of the EC225 and now in addition the AS332L2 helicopter. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd. is working with Eurocopter as a matter of priority in finding a solution that will enable the helicopters to be returned to service.