According to a report published April 6 by the Globe and Mail newspaper, the Sikorsky S-92 couldn’t meet a specification that calls for the main gearbox to run for half an hour without oil.
The aircraft is certified under FAR 29, which calls for a dry run time of 30 minutes. But certification documents filed with the Joint Aviation Authorities, the European counterpart to the FAA, show that the S-92 couldn’t meet the specification. Instead, it was certified under a clause that allows an exemption if the chances of gearbox oil loss are extremely remote.
The company, which built the helicopter that crashed off the coast of Newfoundland last month, said there is nothing wrong with the aircraft’s safety certification. According to Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson, “No such requirement, as described in media reports, exists for civil certified rotorcraft.” He added, “Sikorsky takes exception to the characterization that the helicopter failed to meet any certification requirements.”
Jackson also noted that the helicopter has a system that is intended to isolate any leaks and re-circulate oil to prevent the gearbox from running dry.
The Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union, which represents some offshore workers, reported that many of them are worried about the safety of the helicopter.
Spokesman Sheldon Peddle said, “Some union members will refuse to climb aboard the S-92 until they’re convinced the helicopters are safe.”
The Cougar S-92s’ used in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore industry have been grounded pending further investigation.