FAA issues order grounding Sikorsky S-92 choppers

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FAA issues order grounding Sikorsky S-92 choppers

Postby BORG » 26 Mar 2009, 12:47

FAA issues order grounding Sikorsky S-92 choppers

CTV.ca News Staff

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all Sikorsky S-92 helicopters following a deadly crash off Newfoundland that killed 17 offshore oil workers.

The FAA issued an order that said all helicopters of the same model are banned from flying until repairs are made.

"This Emergency Airworthiness Directive is prompted by the failure of two main gearbox filter bowl assembly mounting studs that were found broken during a fatal accident investigation in Canada," the order states.

It said that at the time of the crash, the manufacturer was already investigating a July 2008 incident that also involved broken studs.

In both incidents, the broken studs resulted in a rapid loss of oil. The originals were made from titanium, and must be replaced with steel studs, according to the FAA order.

"We are issuing this EmergencyAD to prevent failure of a stud which could result in rapid loss of oil, failure of the main gearbox, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter," the FAA stated.

It notes that the "unsafe condition" is likely to exist or develop in other helicopters of the same make and design.

The Transportation Safety Board reported that investigators had found a broken mounting stud in the wreckage.

The TSB has stated, however, that the broken stud is not necessarily related to the crash.

There was only one survivor when the aircraft belonging to Cougar Helicopters went down about 65 kilometres from St. John's, N.L. on March 12.

The helicopter was carrying oil workers to an offshore oil platform. It turned back unexpectedly, then crashed about eight minutes later into the frigid North Atlantic.

The pilot had reported problems with the gearbox. In January, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. issued a notice recommending replacement of the studs.

But the recommendation was not urgent, saying that helicopter owners could wait a year or up to 1,250 hours of operating time before making the replacement.

Cougar Helicopters said the chopper that crashed had only 117 hours of operation time since the directive was sent out.

The Stratford, Conn.-based company says 86 Sikorsky S-92s are operating in 19 countries.

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