February 17, 2009
The NTSB is focusing on a bird strike as the cause of the Jan. 4 crash of an S76 helicopter in the Gulf of Mexico. The helicopter was transporting Royal Dutch Shell workers to an offshore oil platform in clear weather. The NTSB quickly ruled out most of the more common causes such as fuel starvation or mechanical failure. The reason for the crash puzzled investigators, causing Shell to temporarily ground its entire fleet of S76 helicopters.
The helicopter’s cockpit voice recorder captured a sudden loud bang followed by wind noise. One second later, the power from both engines dropped considerably. According to the NTSB, the theory is that debris struck the throttles, retarding them. Investigators are working to confirm this theory and have sent some of the material found in the cockpit to experts to determine if it came from a bird.
According to the manufacturer, operators sometimes replace the windscreen with a weaker acrylic version to save weight. There is speculation that a letter is forthcoming to warn operators of the increased danger of using these windscreens. Petroleum Helicopters, who operated the helicopter, has not commented.
This model helicopter is very popular with corporate flight departments and oil companies for transporting workers to offshore platforms. If the NTSB confirms the cause as a bird strike, it would have happened two weeks prior the bird strike that forced a US Airways airliner to ditch in New York’s Hudson River.
Pilot Safety and Skills,
NetJets has added a new safety feature to its long-range fleet: a doctor who is always in.
Your mission: Fly with eight F-15s to the Philippines, rejoin, refuel with air tankers, engage an unknown number of Red Air fighters, refuel again, and then return home to Okinawa. And fly with radio silence up to the first contact with the Red Air fighters.
The Aviation Safety Reporting System is a voluntary safety reporting program that allows airmen to make anonymous reports to the government about issues encountered in aviation, with anonymity allowing the airman to be candid–even when their actions may have been a violation of the regulations.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.