AAIB releases initial report on North Sea helicopter ditching

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has released its initial findings of the ditching of Eurocopter EC225 LP Super Puma G-REDU in the North Sea on February 18 – although all passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries, because of the importance of helicopter operations in support of the offshore oil and gas industry, it decided to release the report as soon as possible.
The AAIB’s report suggests that there may have been a malfunction of the Terrain Avoidance Warning System (TAWS). During the final seconds of flight, the retrieved solid-state Flight Data Recorder shows no ‘ONE HUNDRED FEET’ audio voice warning was heard – this warning cannot be suspended, and was clearly audible in the recording of the landing at the end of the previous flight into Aberdeen. Earlier in the accident flight, the pilot recalled a warning ‘caution’ caption on the TAWS illuminate for a few seconds and then clear – this caption (not recorded on the Flight Data Recorder) indicating there was a possible malfunction in the TAWS equipment. Due to a ‘bank of fog’, the pilot and co-pilot had no visual references to the oil platform.
A preliminary examination of the wreckage has revealed no evidence of any pre-impact malfunction of any major mechanical components, including the engines, main rotor, tail rotor and its drive shaft. Further examinations are planned on the avionic components, including warning systems.
The operator, Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd., has amended procedures for offshore night operations, requiring that ‘if at any time visual contact with the installation/vessel is lost or becomes uncertain, a Go-around is mandatory.’