EASA lifts Puma grounding with conditions

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has lifted its temporary flight suspension of commercial operations by Airbus Helicopters H225 (EC225LP and AS332L2) Super Puma helicopters after the agency put in place an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) to ground the type on June 2 following the fatal crash of an EC225LP in Norway on April 29.

However, directives issued by the Norway Civil Aviation Agency and the UK Civil Aviation Authority to prohibit commercial operations of the H225 still remain in effect .The suspension lifting comes with a number of mandatory actions to permit the type to return to flight.

These include all second stage main gearbox (MGB) planet gears, such as the type involved in the accident, be replaced with another type which has a demonstrated a reliable service life.The service life of these newer type of second stage planet gears will also be halved resulting in the time before replacement and their current value being reduced by 50 per cent. Engineers will also have to conduct a daily inspection, or after 10 flight hours, of MGB chip detectors and the oil filter.

EASA also said that all MGBs that have suffered from unusual events such as an external shock but have no visual evidence of damage will have to be withdrawn from service. Despite the suspension lifting, Bristow said its H225s will remain grounded for the time being as the company continues to monitor the situation closely. According to CASA’s civil aircraft register, there are nine EC225LP and 12 AS332L family Super Pumas currently registered in Australia.

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