Two Thirds of Workers Would Refuse to Fly if Super Pumas Return
Published in Oil Industry News on Thursday, 2 February 2017
After a spate of accidents occurring over several years involving two Super Puma variants (the EC-225 and the AS332-L2), many within the industry raised doubts as to the long term safety of the aircraft.
These doubts were reaffirmed on the 29th of April 2016, an EC-225 experienced a detachment of its main rotor blades during flight. The loss of main rotor blades sent the aircraft body plummeting through the air before crashing into rocky ground near Turoy Norway. All 13 on board were killed in the accident.
In response to the Norwegian accident, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) grounded both EC225 LP and AS332-L2 variants of the Super Puma indefinitely to allow detailed investigations to take place.
With provisional findings communicated and modifications made to the aircraft, EASA lifted its ban on the aircraft on the 7th of October 2016, but UK and Norwegian Aviation Authorities opted to keep national bans in place until the investigation reached a later stage.
A preliminary report into the accident is expected in the coming weeks. Many offshore workers have expressed their concerns, with the issue causing a backlash within the oil and gas community, that the aircraft may soon be returned to service. Oil and Gas People surveyed 2,500 people within the industry to canvass attitudes towards a potential return to service.
In response to the on-going controversy regarding the potential return to service of the Super Puma EC-225 and AS332-L2 variants, Oil and Gas People – the oil industry’s largest oil and gas jobs and news site – have conducted a survey of 2,500 oil industry workers.
The survey aims to capture the mindsets and opinions of the workers flying offshore on a regular basis and gain consensus on their attitude towards the potential reintroduction of the Super Puma fleet.
Oil and Gas People’s survey concludes that the vast majority of offshore workers opposed the return of the Super Puma variants – with 90.1% advising they would not be happy to see the aircraft return to service. The remaining 9.9% were happy to see the aircraft return to service.
Workers were then asked if they would refuse to fly on board the Super Puma variants should they be brought back into service – of which 65.5% advised they would refuse to fly. The remaining 34.5% would not object to flying in the aircraft.
When asked whether travelling in the Super Puma would cause concern or worries for themselves 88.5% advised travelling on board a Super Puma would indeed cause them concern. 7.86% advised they would have no concerns and 3.7 advise they weren’t sure.
Upon being asked if traveling in the Super Puma would cause concern or worries for family members, 89% advised travelling on board a Super puma would cause their family concern or worry, 6% advised it would not and 5% advised they were not sure.
Managing Director of Oilandgaspeople.com, Kevin Forbes commented: “We expected a large majority of the oil and gas workforce to oppose a potential return of the Super Puma, however with over 90% against and two thirds of the work force advising they would refuse to get on board, it seems that aircraft operators need to think long and hard about the ramifications of returning the aircraft to service.”
Offshore workers were also asked if anything could be done to restore their faith in the Super Puma – over 85% of respondents advised that there was nothing that could be done to change their mindsets.
Some of the remaining 15% advised that they simply had never lost faith in the aircraft in the first place, and others who stated their mindset could be changed suggested a re-design of the the main gearbox and a safer seating configuration to give passengers more room and allow quicker evacuation in the event of an emergency.
One worker responded to the question of whether his faith in the Super Puma could be restored by saying: “Yes take out some seats. When the chopper is full it’s like a can of sardines and if you have to ditch least you’ll have room to escape”
Another responded “Let the investigation conclude and facts, actual facts, be shared. If pilots and engineers are happy with the aircraft then I’m happy to fly in it. They’re the real experts. The media has a lot to answer for in scaremongering North Sea passengers and terrifying our families.”
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