Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma fleet 'solution' approved

Ditched helicopter All 19 people were rescued when a Super Puma ditched off Shetland

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Super Puma helicopters which were grounded after two offshore incidents have been given the all clear to fly again, if they pass new safety checks.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it approved a proposed gear box technical solution from manufacturer Eurocopter.

Super Puma EC 225s were grounded in the wake of two incidents off Aberdeen and Shetland last year.

The Civil Aviation Authority said they could fly again when they complied.

Cracks had been identified in the main gear box in both cases.

EASA said: "The objective is to fix the unsafe condition created by the shaft failure of two EC 225 helicopters in the North Sea in 2012.

"The Eurocopter solution comprises of a set of modifications and inspections which aim at monitoring and detecting vertical shaft crack conditions and reducing the likelihood of any shaft crack initiation.

"When complied with, this solution ensures safe and airworthy operations of the EC 225 type.

"EASA will continue to work closely with Eurocopter, with the relevant National Aviation Authorities and the accident investigators to ensure that the fleet is operated safely, and may update its directive based on further investigation results."

'Major milestone'

The Civil Aviation Authority said: "The CAA will subsequently amend its operational restriction on the helicopter type, allowing each aircraft to return to service once the requirements of the EASA directive are met."

A Eurocopter spokesman said: "This is a major milestone to ensure that the first EC 225s of the suspended fleet can be ready for a return to flight in July."

He added: "Safe operation is Eurocopter's main priority."

Jake Molloy, of the RMT union, urged all employers to consult with their workforces about resuming flights.

And he called on companies to be sympathetic towards those workers who still feared flying in the aircraft, despite industry assurances.

All 14 people on board a Super Puma were rescued when their helicopter came down about 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen during a flight to an oil rig in May last year.

In October, all 19 people on board were rescued safely after the Super Puma put down in the sea off Shetland.

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