Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fatal Statoil helicopter crash was most likely caused by a fatigue fracture in one of the eight second stage planet gears inside the helicopter gearbox.

Published in Oil Industry News on 

Friday, 23 September 2016  

An investigation report into the Statoil crash which killed 13 people has today been released.

The Statoil investigation concluded that the organisation is working well with helicopter safety on the Norwegian shelf, the company said.

The report also stated that the industry's efforts to streamline and increased focus on costs must not be at the expense of safety.

"We will follow up the recommendations of the monitoring group which stands to strengthen Statoil's work on helicopter safety and preparedness. Our ambition is to maintain our leading role in developing and strengthening the current standard for helicopter safety. The report provides a good basis to ensure the best possible organization and comprehensive approach to this", says Cheif Operating Officer Anders Opedal.

Two Investigations

The AINB is investigating the incident, but Statoil decided in May that they should conduct their own investigation of the incident. The investigation team consisted of nine people.

The purpose of Statoil's investigation was to identify measures to improve the company's work with helicopter safety on the Norwegian shelf.

The investigation group makes recommendations on measures Statoil should follow up to reinforce helicopter safety and preparedness. This among other things must be prepared for a clearer aviation safety strategy and associated plan.

Organisation of helicopter safety in Statoil is complicatied, says the group. Many players participate in the work, and there are varying understanding of the individual roles in the work.

AIBN Spokesperson William Bertheussen advised Oil and Gas People that although the AIBN report is unlikely to be released any time soon, it is good to see that Statoil have conducted their own investigation with the aim of improving helicopter safety and addressing any identified issues.

All 13 on board were killed when a helicopter Airbus H225 crashed on its way from Gullfaks B in Bergen on 29 April. The helicopter lost main rotor and crashed on an island east of Turøy in Hordaland.

On the same day a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) was introduced grounding all Super Pumas of the type that crashed (EC 225 LP), days later the same ban was applied to it's predecessor the AS 332 L2.


AIBN preliminary research suggests that the accident was most likely caused by a fatigue fracture in one of the eight second stage planet gears inside the helicopter gearbox.

The Commission believes the fatigue crack has evolved without being identified by the systems meant to notify about errors that are under development. However, it is not determined how the fracture occurred.

The pilots were defenseless when the accident occurred. The error occurred in less than one second, stated AIBN Kåre Halvorsen a few days after the accident. Nothing dramatic happened before the accident, and no distress message was ever sent out.

We know that the accident evolved very, very quickly from being a normal situation to an emergency, said Halvorsen.