HOUSTON, May 2 (UPI) — A helicopter operator decided Monday to ground some H225 Super Puma choppers in Australia following last week’s deadly crash that killed more than a dozen in Norway — as investigators begin analyzing black box data from the accident.
Bristow Helicopters announced the grounding of six passenger choppers in Australia, following similar actions in Norway and the United Kingdom.
However, the Super Puma helicopters are still being allowed for emergency operations there, the company said. In Norway and the United Kingdom, though, emergency flights have also been ruled out.
Also Monday, investigators said they have extracted the data from the chopper’s “black boxes” — the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
“The data is of good quality and is sent back to Norway for analysis,” the Accident Investigation Board Norway said.
The H225 accident chopper crashed Friday while en route to Norway’s Bergen Airport, killing all 13 people aboard. So far, investigators have indicated that it appears the tail rotor separated from the aircraft. The reason is unknown, but officials hope the data from the recorders will give them more clues.
The actions in Norway, United Kingdom and Australia, however, run contrary to the opinion of the chopper’s manufacturer, Airbus.
After initially recommending the grounding of all Super Puma helicopters worldwide, the aviation company formerly known as Aérospatiale reversed course Monday and said a precursory examination of the crash site and evidence has led it to believe the crash doesn’t indicate a safety-of-flight risk for the Super Puma fleet.
The H225, a staple aircraft in North Sea oil and gas operations, has a history of technical problems. In 2012, two Super Puma choppers crashed due to problems associated with the craft’s gearbox. Airbus said Monday the cause of Friday’s crash does not appear to involve the gearbox issue, which had been corrected.
The Super Puma H215, a different model, also has a troubled history. Twenty people were killed in the H215 in crashes in 2009 and 2013. The former was also blamed on the aircraft’s gearbox.