Checks ordered after component comes off copter blade

Europe’s aviation safety watchdog has advised helicopter operators to carry out checks on rotor blades of AW139 aircraft.

In its airworthiness directive, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said an instance had been reported of a protective cap coming off the tip of a rotor blade during flight.

EASA said the pilot managed to maintain control of the AW139 and land safely.

An investigation has shown that an incorrect bonding procedure had been used during production.

EASA warned that losing a tip cap during flight could lead to “increased pilot workload and reduced control of the helicopter”.

The watchdog requires operators to conduct one-time inspections within five flight hours of the airworthiness directive’s effective date, which is today.

The blade must be replaced if a fault is detected.

Nineteen AW139 helicopters are currently in operation on the UK continental shelf, according to the most recent figures from Oil and Gas UK.

AW139 manufacturer Leonardo has already issued its own emergency alert service bulletin providing instructions for inspection and replacing affected rotor blades.

The company has been contracted for comment.


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