Following publication of an airworthiness directive by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for Super Puma helicopters on 9 July 2013, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will subsequently amend its operational restriction on the helicopter type, allowing each aircraft to return to service once the requirements of the EASA directive are met.
EASA is the body responsible for the certification and airworthiness of the helicopter type throughout Europe and has therefore taken the lead in working with Eurocopter, the manufacturer of Super Pumas, to agree a set of modifications and inspections that can allow a safe return to service. These are detailed in the airworthiness directive available on the EASA website www.easa.eu.int
The CAA has been kept informed of the work to develop the airworthiness directive and has also maintained a close dialogue with the Air Accident Investigation Branch, that is investigating the two UK EC225 ditchings in 2012 that led to the original operating restrictions. The CAA has been liaising directly with the three UK Super Puma operators, and with the joint industry Helicopter Safety Steering Group throughout the period of the operating restrictions.
The CAA has also been working closely with the Norwegian aviation authority, who introduced similar restrictions, as well as the Danish aviation authority, to ensure a coordinated approach to offshore safety and operations.
As a result of the modifications and inspections required by EASA the CAA has determined that the restrictions placed on the operation of an affected Super Puma can now be lifted, subject to the requirements of the airworthiness directive being met on that aircraft. The CAA will amend its safety directive, which sets out the restrictions, accordingly. The safety directive will remain in force for those aircraft that do not meet the required standards but will be revoked once they are compliant.
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The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.