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March 1st, 2011

Transportation Safety Board Calls for Tougher Offshore Helicopter Standards

Canada’s transportation safety board last month called for tougher safety standards for offshore helicopters to prevent accidents like the North Sea helicopter crash of 2009 that killed 17 people.

On March 12, 2009, the victims, oil rig workers were traveling in a Sikorsky S92A helicopter from shore to an offshore rig, when their helicopter went down into the Atlantic Ocean.  17 people on the helicopter died, and one person survived.  Investigations by the Transportation Safety Board in Canada linked the crash to an oil failure in the gear box.  The equipment that would have kept the helicopter afloat after the crash had also been severely damaged in the crash.

Now, the Transportation Safety Board is calling on helicopter manufacturers, including Sikorsky, to meet minimum safety standards.  According to the Transportation Safety Board recommendations, all categories of offshore helicopters, including the Sikorsky, must be able to fly for at least 30 minutes after a loss of main gearbox oil, to prevent a crash.

The Transportation Safety Board is also recommending that federal regulatory agencies in the other countries that struggle with offshore safety like the United States and the European Union also reconsider whether it is merely enough to require helicopters to be able to operate for 30 minutes without the main gearbox in such harsh environments.  Specifically, the Transportation Safety Board is calling on the US Federal Aviation Administration to consider whether 30 minutes is enough time for an aircraft to be able to survive without the main gearbox, when it is flying over a harsh environment like the North Sea and the Arctic sea.


The
maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent injured offshore workers in offshore platform and oil rig accidents, and offshore helicopter crashes across the country and worldwide.

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