CHC Helicopters – Scotland
22 October 2012
Eurocopter EC 225
On 22 October 2012, a Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma helicopter operated by CHC Helicopters was carrying oil rig workers from Aberdeen International Airport to the West Phoenix drilling rig. About 32 miles south of Shetland, the helicopter was forced to make a controlled ditching into the North Sea due to a problem with the main gearbox lubrication system. All 17 passengers and two crew were rescued, but there were physical and psychological injuries.
This incident followed the same profile as a Bond Helicopters EC 225 incident on 10 May 2012, where the crew had to ditch the helicopter into the North Sea due to a problem with the gearbox lubrication system.
The AAIB investigated both accidents together and on 11 June 2014 published a comprehensive final accident report. It identified that both helicopters experienced a loss of main rotor gearbox oil pressure due to a failure of the bevel gear vertical shaft that drives the oil pumps. The emergency lubrication system operated for both flights but a faulty warning system wrongly indicated to the helicopter crews that the emergency lubrication system had failed, causing both flight crews to take the decision to make an emergency ditching into the waters of the North Sea.
Following the accidents and this report, the helicopter manufacturer has taken measures to make the shaft safer and modified the emergency lubrication system.
A product liability case was brought against the manufacturer of the helicopter and liability was admitted.