EXCLUSIVE: S92 Emergency – Crew Prepared Passengers to Ditch as Cost Saving Measures Put Lives at Risk
Published in Oil Industry News on Friday, 21 October 2016 Graphic for News Item:
EXCLUSIVE: S92 Emergency – Crew Prepared Passengers to Ditch as Cost Saving Measures Put Lives at Risk Oil and Gas People have obtained the internal crew report from the helicopter emergency incident we broke on Sunday the 16th of October. The report (available below) confirms a CHC owned Sikorsky S92 Helicopter declared an emergency after a fire warning light was triggered on one of its engines. Both primary and reserve fire suppression systems were activated and the engine fire warning light persisted. Pilots dropped the aircraft to 500 feet and briefed passengers in anticipation of an emergency ditching.
Luckily the aircraft was close by two offshore installations and was able to get visual confirmation that no signs of fire or smoke were present from Petrojarll Banff Heli staff. This negative confirmation enabled pilots to assume a spurious indication and continue flying the aircraft to shore. The assistance of a Bristow’s helicopter was requested by Air Traffic Control to tail the aircraft back to base and keep pilots informed of any new indications of fire. Had this helicopter been flying in an isolated area of the North Sea where negative confirmation of an engine fire was not possible, emergency procedures would have required the helicopter to ditch and due to the false indication would have needlessly jeopardised the lives of all passengers and crew on board.
Today an aviation industry insider who wishes to stay anonymous has advised Oil and Gas People that a tail mounted camera upgrade for the S92 is available and has been recommended which gives pilots their own eyes on the aircraft engines. This would have allowed for instant confirmation and monitoring as to whether a fire existed or developed. This confirmation in the event of a real fire would save vital seconds / minutes in the decision process to ditch the aircraft. The camera modification costs around $50,000 which given the S92s history of spurious warning lights seems a small price to pay for an upgrade that could prevent a helicopter needlessly ditching.
The upgrade however also requires each aircraft to be out of service for one week at a time when there is a lack of available helicopters following the grounding of the Super Puma fleet in June this year, a factor that is no doubt pivotal in the decision not to implement the cameras on this aircraft. Oil and Gas People have learned that the camera system has already been adopted on other helicopter models but has not yet been implemented on all Sikorsky S92s.
The original crew report is available below and we have clarified the following terms for your reference: AMSL = Above Mean Sea Level, ECL = Emergency Check List, HLO = Helicopter Landing Officer, ATC = Air Traffic Control, OEI = One Engine Inoperative
Title: Engine Fire warning Number 2 Description: Levelled off at 1000 feet AMSL with 10 mins to go to the Offshore platform we were alerted by the Engine fire warning Audio and associated captions (No. 2). P2 was Pilot Flying (PF) initiated immediate actions, P1 was pilot Monitoring (PM) and initiated Immediate actions firing off the Main fire bottle. After 15 secs fire warnings were still indicating FIRE, so Reserve fire bottle fired, during the 15 sec wait the P2 initiated a Right hand turn and descent to 500 feet in anticipation of ditching, ECL drills completed. PM in right hand seat checked outside for other confirming indications (smoke) and NON seen, suspecting a spurious alarm and as we were close by two other offshore installations and we decided to contact one of them to get some form of visual confirmation from the HLO before we Ditched or returned to base in the darkness. Petrojarll Banff HLO confirmed that there were no visible signs of fire from the Starboard side and although we had prepped the passengers for a possible ditching we deemed it safer to return to base and briefed them of such. ATC and offshore installations were fully aware of our situation and kept updated of our intentions at all times.
ATC co-ordinated a Bristows A/c to fly behind to monitor for any deterioration in our situation. A/c returned to base OEI and running landing with Emergency services in full attendance. If you have a story relating to the oil and gas industry that you would like to bring to our attention, please contact our news team in confidence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Health & Safety offshore is no accident,offshore trade unions through the offshore coordinating group (OCG) and the Norwegian unions work together to raise and maintain the high levels of Health & Safety standards in the major risk industry of Oil & Gas offshore sector in the North Sea.
Offshore trade unions work with all stakeholders offshore to ensure safety is the number one priority at all times protecting all who work, travel and maintain the North Sea offshore helicopter fleet and that they are trained to the highest safety standards.
This latest helicopter incident highlights another case of where the helicopter crew and backup services averted a potential controlled ditching in the sea due to their quick thinking, high levels of skill and experience, enabled them to quickly assess and avert any ditching. They then were able to decide on the safest and the best course of action to take, which resulted in all crew and passengers returning back home safe, the helicopter crew and all backup service personnel are to be commended.
Offshore trade unions will continue to raise and highlight issues of Health & Safety for workers offshore and will demand protection and highest training standards and equipment for workers and will hold account all stakeholders, legislators, manufacturers,employers, contractors and governments to ensure Health & Safety offshore is no accident.
The Offshore Coordinating Group of offshore unions (UNITE, RMT, GMB, Nautilus International and BALPA) was launched in February 2016.
The aims and objectives of the Group are to:
• co-ordinate the recruitment and organisation of all employees in the offshore oil and gas industries and thereafter to seek recognition on their behalf.
• campaign to improve both the quality and security of employment in the offshore sector and the health, safety and wellbeing of all offshore workers.
• organise and pursue effective campaigns on issues identified by the Group in the interests of the offshore workforce.
• organise and articulate the collective trade union voice in strategic discussions with Government at all levels, regulators and employer organisations.
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