Last week’s report from the Air Accidents branch of the Department for Transport has raised fresh questions for the oil and gas industry in the North Sea and demonstrated double standards by the trade union Unite.
On 28 December 2016, just as a Sikorsky S92 was approaching the West Franklin Platform, a failure in the tail rotor pitch servo bearing (TRPCS) caused the complete loss of its yaw control while in the air. The pilots managed to achieve a hard landing, fortunately without casualties, but even then it spun a full 180 degrees to the edge of the helipad.
The investigation determined that, “the TRPCS bearing had degraded and failed. As a consequence, the tail rotor pitch change servo was damaged resulting in uncommanded and uncontrolled inputs being made to the tail rotor.” The report confirmed the bearing’s failure was for “an undetermined reason” and poor monitoring of routine maintenance had let the failure go unreported. Had the loss of yaw control happened earlier the report stated, “the helicopter would most likely have made an uncontrolled descent into the North Sea” with its nine passengers and two crew.