Statoil drops Airbus Super Puma helicopters for good

Tue Dec 6, 2016 11:39am EST
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OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian state-controlled oil company Statoil (STL.OL: Quote) will not resume using Airbus's (AIR.PA: Quote) H225 Super Puma helicopters even if Norway's Civil Aviation Authority decides to lift a ban imposed after a fatal crash off Norway in April, the company said on Tuesday.

Recent models of Super Puma, a workhorse of the offshore oil industry, were banned from commercial traffic in Norway and Britain following the accident that killed 13 oil workers flying from a Norwegian offshore oil platform operated by Statoil.

"We have no plans to use this helicopter ever again, even if the Norwegian authorities decide to lift the ban", Statoil spokesman Morten Eek said.

"It doesn't matter what the Aviation Authority says. We can specify the helicopter type we want to use and we have already built up capacity with a different helicopter, the Sikorsky S-92," he added.

The announcement comes after unions representing oil workers expressed concern about the H225 helicopter and asked for a permanent ban.

The helicopter that crashed in April was working for Statoil and operated by Canada-based group CHC Helicopter HELIQ.PK [CHCEL.UL].

Norwegian investigators have said in preliminary findings a technical fault caused the Super Puma's main rotor blades to spin away from the aircraft, killing everyone on board.

The European Aviation Safety Agency lifted a flight ban in October after Airbus contained a potential weakness inside the gearbox.

But national bans on the use of recent Super Pumas for commercial traffic remain in place in Norway and Britain.   Continued...

Spectators watch a Super Puma helicopter operating in a mock Search and Rescue operation, during a show marking the Hellenic Air Force's Patron Saint celebration, on the southern suburb of Faliro, in Athens, Greece, November 6, 2016.  REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis