The recent spate of accidents in helicopter offshore oil operations has thrown safety research programs–many of which have long been under way–into the spotlight. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is working on improving the safety of offshore helicopter operations through research into satellite-guided approaches–which would rely on Egnos, Europe’s Waas counterpart–and, in case of ditching, a side-floating concept.
While only one in five birdstrikes is ever reported, one unusual strike this past January 15, with an even more remarkable outcome, gained global attention and might bring advisories and eventually new certification and training standards to operators of all turbine-powered aircraft.
On Tuesday, the NTSB opened a three-day hearing to focus on the January 15 ditching on New York’s Hudson River by an Airbus A320 operating as US Airways flight 1549 from La Guardia Airport. All 150 passengers and five crew escaped, though one flight attendant and four passengers were seriously injured.
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is investigating the ditching of a Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma in the North Sea on February 18. All 16 passengers and two crewmembers were rescued with minor injuries after the Bond-operated helicopter ditched near its destination oil platform. The accident took place in the ETAP field, about 130 nm east of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Minutes before a Cougar Helicopters Sikorsky S-92 fell into the Atlantic March 12, one of the pilots radioed that the helicopter had “zero” main gearbox (MGB) oil pressure. Two pilots and 16 offshore oil workers were aboard the helicopter when it either crashed or ditched 47 miles East of St. John’s Newfoundland.
The US Airways “heroes of the Hudson” pilots used a House aviation subcommittee hearing Tuesday as a bully pulpit to characterize cost-cutting in the U.S. airline industry as both a threat to passenger safety and to the recruitment and retention of career aviators.
Survivors of an accident in which a Eurocopter Super Puma ditched into the North Sea last Wednesday have praised the skills of the pilots and also the successful first operation of a new automated rescue system just introduced by oil company BP. All 18 people on board the Eurocopter AS 332 Mark II Super Puma were quickly rescued and only three of them required hospital treatment for minor injuries.
The Smithsonian Institution has identified the bird remains found in both engines of the US Airways A320 that ditched into the Hudson River on January 15 as those of Canada Geese. The Smithsonian’s feather identification lab has so far examined 25 samples of bird remains and reached its conclusion through DNA analysis and through morphological comparisons with specimens in the museum’s collections.
A US Airways Airbus A320 carrying 150 passengers and five crew on board ditched into New York’s Hudson River late this afternoon and initial reports indicate that all the occupants escaped with their lives. Flight 1549 had taken off moments earlier from New York La Guardia Airport for a flight to Charlotte, N.C., when the A320 descended into the 35-degree F water near Manhattan’s 57th Street.
For those who operate aircraft over water, knowing how to ditch is an important safety issue. So is having the right equipment. Eastern Aero Marine, based in Miami, claims 15 lives have been saved in three aircraft ditchings in the past six months after crew and passengers used its inflatable survival gear products.