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UPDATE 1-Statoil drops Airbus Super Puma helicopters for good

Tue 6th December, 2016 4:36pm
(Adds Airbus reaction, further details, background) 
    OSLO, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Norwegian state-controlled oil 
comany Statoil  STL.OL  will not resume using Airbus's  AIR.PA  
H225 Super Puma helicopters even if Norway's Civil Aviation 
Authority decides to lift a ban imposed after a fatal crash off 
Norway in April, the company said on Tuesday. 
    Recent models of Super Puma, a workhorse of the offshore oil 
industry, were banned from commercial traffic in Norway and 
Britain following the accident that killed 13 oil workers flying 
from a Norwegian offshore oil platform operated by Statoil. 
    "We have no plans to use this helicopter ever again, even if 
the Norwegian authorities decide to lift the ban", Statoil 
spokesman Morten Eek said. 
    "It doesn't matter what the Aviation Authority says. We can 
specify the helicopter type we want to use and we have already 
built up capacity with a different helicopter, the Sikorsky 
S-92," he added.  
    The announcement comes after unions representing oil workers 
expressed concern about the H225 helicopter and asked for a 
permanent ban. 
    The helicopter that crashed in April was working for Statoil 
and operated by Canada-based group CHC Helicopter  HELIQ.PK  
 CHCEL.UL . 
    Norwegian investigators have said in preliminary findings a 
technical fault caused the Super Puma's main rotor blades to 
spin away from the aircraft, killing everyone on board.  
    The European Aviation Safety Agency lifted a flight ban in 
October after Airbus contained a potential weakness inside the 
gearbox.  
    But national bans on the use of recent Super Pumas for 
commercial traffic remain in place in Norway and Britain. 
    Airbus Group has expressed frustration at the local bans. 
    "I regret the timing of Statoil's comments during a 
difficult time for the offshore community as a whole, at a time 
when we are working with the Norwegian authorities and 
investigation team to address the specific concerns regarding 
the return to service of the H225 and AS332-L2 in the region," 
Airbus Helicopters' chief executive Guillaume Faury said on 
Tuesday. 
    In October Airbus Group's finance director Harald Wilhelm 
suggested Britain's decision to keep the aircraft grounded was 
related to the country's decision to leave the European Union. 
    Britain's Civil Aviation Authority responded, saying that 
the decision was purely related to safety. 
    The Super Puma has come under scrutiny after a series of 
incidents linked to gearbox problems including a 2009 crash off 
Scotland, in which the rotor also flew off and 16 people died. 
    Analysts and industry executives say questions are growing 
over the future of at least the civil version of the Super Puma, 
which makes up 80 percent of the total, but Airbus says it has 
no plans to abandon the 18-year-old programme. 
 
 (Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg and Tim Hepher; Editing by 
Louise Heavens, Greg Mahlich) 
 ((joachim.dagenborg@thomsonreuters.com; +47 233 16 592; Reuters 
Messaging: joachim.dagenborg.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) 
 
Keywords: STATOIL HELICOPTER/AIRBUS
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