Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation announced that the majority of the worldwide S-92TM helicopter fleet already has complied with the company notice to retrofit the aircraft's gearbox oil bowl with steel mounting studs. The company expected to achieve close to 100 percent compliance this week. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation.
The company contacted all S-92 helicopter operators on March 20 after broken titanium studs were found during a helicopter crash investigation in Canada. The investigation is continuing, and no determination has been made that the broken studs contributed to the accident or if they resulted from it. Sikorsky immediately notified the operators as a safety precaution, and the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to issue an Airworthiness Directive instructing the retrofit.
As of this moment, more than 50 of the 91 S-92 helicopter retrofits were completed. Sikorsky has made available all the parts and tools necessary for all operators to swap out the studs.
"While the investigation remains ongoing, our priority has been to maintain safety and eliminate any potential risks," said Marc Poland, vice president of Sikorsky Global Helicopters. "The operators are reacting quickly, and we are doing all we can to encourage full and rapid compliance."
Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is leading the investigation into the March 12 helicopter accident that occurred off the coast of Newfoundland and resulted in 17 deaths. Sikorsky is assisting with the investigation.
"Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to the families of all involved in this terrible tragedy," Poland said. "The investigation continues, and we are providing support and technical resources to assist the TSB while we continue to support the fleet."
The S-92 helicopter was designed with numerous structural and avionics safety features. The worldwide fleet has accumulated more than 140,000 flight hours since 2004. Approximately 66 percent of current S-92 operators are offshore oil customers. The remainder are performing search and rescue (SAR), Head of State, VIP, and airline missions.
Sikorsky Aircraft, based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Connecticut, provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.