Showing posts with label Eurocopter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eurocopter. Show all posts

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Choppers are death traps

Since 1986 there have been 13 crashes of helicopters servicing oil platforms in the North Sea.  127 passengers and crew have died.  The last crash was just last week.  Five US built Sikorsky helicopters and 8 Eurocopter machines were lost.  All the crashes since 2009 were Eurocopter.  European authorities grounded the Eurocopter EC225 in  October 2012 and kept it grounded until just a few months ago. 
   Failure of the main gearbox was responsible for six accidents.  Full power of the engines, 5000 to 10000 horsepower flows thru the gearbox which has to gear the 10,000 RPM of the turbines down to 100 RPM or less for the rotor.  This is a terrible strain, the slightest weakness, stripping of gear teeth, a crack in the casing, loss of oil pressure, bearing failure, anything, and the gearbox blows apart leaving the helicopter hanging in mid air without power. 
   Two helicopters were struck by lightening and two other accidents look like pilot error.  There was one engine fire, one loss of control (reason not given) and last week's accident where all that is known is the chopper lost power and ditched two miles away from Sumburgh airport.
   It's gotten so bad that oil rig workers are reluctant to travel by chopper.  Oil companies are chartering ships to transport their workers.  This is less than ideal, a three hour flight becomes a couple of rough days at sea.  Disembarking from a pitching vessel onto a platform in bad weather is quite dangerous. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Think Boeing has it bad?

Boeing's 787 was only grounded for a couple of months and looks like it will fly again by the end of this month.  Bad, but read this.
Eurocopter EC225's (a big helicopter used to support North Sea oil drilling) was grounded in October of 2012 and looks to stay grounded until this fall.  Grounding was ordered by both the British and the Norwegian governments after two forced landings in the North Sea, caused by failures in the main gear box.  The main gearbox connects the engines to the rotor.  When that breaks the rotor stops turning and the chopper falls out of the sky.
  That's a lot worse than flaming lithium batteries.