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‘More action needed to make helicopters safer’, says TSB

June 23, 2011  By Carey Fredericks

June 23, 2011, Gatineau, Que. - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) gives Satisfactory Intent rating on responses to four recommendations stemming from its investigation into the 12 March 2009 Sikorsky S-92A helicopter crash.

For helicopters certified in the future, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Canada (TC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have all agreed to review the certification rules. "But it is going to take more than promises to solve the safety problems we found," said TSB Chair, Wendy Tadros.  "We need firm commitments and action to make these helicopters safer."

Tadros was clear, "For those who rely on these helicopters today and in the future, the TSB needs a firm commitment that they will all be capable of flying for at least 30 minutes following a massive loss of main gearbox oil."

While the immediate cause of the crash off Newfoundland has been resolved with the replacement of the titanium studs, today's S-92As can still only fly for 11 minutes in the event of a total loss of oil. "That is why the Board is seeking prompt clarification from the FAA on whether it will require improvements to the S-92A's main gearbox," adds Tadros.

On measures aimed at improving survival, TC has said they will initiate a focus group of industry stakeholders to review the last two TSB recommendations. "This is a positive first step," said Tadros. "At the end of the day, Canadians need to know that helicopters will not operate if the seas are too rough for their Emergency Flotation Systems. In addition, all those who travel to Canada's offshore will now have an Emergency Underwater Breathing Apparatus."


Tadros concluded, "Over the next 6 months, the TSB will be watching closely for regulators to follow through on the promises they made. We will be looking for clear commitments and action plans to ensure these important safety issues are squarely addressed."

A guide to the TSB's rating system, the full text of the TSB recommendations, the responses of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the Federal Aviation Administration and the TSB's rating of those responses are posted on the TSB website at www.bst-tsb.gc.ca .


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