Eurocopter Choppers Cleared for Over-Water Trips After Ditchings

Eurocopter SAS EC225 and AS332 helicopters, models used widely in the oil and gas industry, are able to fly over water again after the lifting of restrictions imposed following two crashes last year.

The European Aviation Safety Agency approved a compliance regime developed for the Super Puma models, the Cologne, Germany-based organization said in an airworthiness directive. The order imposes power limits and demands regular inspections.

“Restrictions placed on the operation of an affected Super Puma can now be lifted,” the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority -- which imposed over-water flight restriction together with Norwegian and Danish authorities -- said separately.

Regulators imposed the restrictions following ditchings in the North Sea in May and October 2012 subsequently linked to the cracking of a shaft that drives the main rotor blades. While flights will be permitted within specified limits following the EASA directive, a permanent fix is due next year, Eurocopter Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said last month.

The 11-metric ton EC225 can transport 19 people as far as 800 kilometers (500 miles), making it a popular choice for the servicing of oil rigs. Major operator Bristow Group Inc. said June 25 it expected revenue service with the model to resume in the fourth quarter once personnel are trained to deal with the inspection regime and customer confidence has been restored.

Eurocopter, the world’s biggest helicopter manufacturer, is a unit of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.

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