Belfast Telegraph

No issues found in safety inspection on Coast Guard helicopters

No issues have been found on Irish Coast Guard helicopters after manufacturers ordered immediate safety checks.

Precautionary inspections were carried out on the five S ikorsky S92s in rotation with at least one kept on duty at all times after the US maker issued an alert.

The move follows an incident involving the same make and model on a North Sea platform last month.

It was landing on the West Franklin rig on December 28 when it left significant gouge marks on the deck.

Gerard O'Flynn, operations manager with the Irish Coast Guard, said the inspections of the tail rotor had not raised any issues.

"All operators were required to carry out pretty well immediate inspections. As of now all the helicopters are fully operational," he said.

Helicopters stationed at the Waterford and Shannon bases were checked first, followed by Dublin and Sligo.

It is understood CHC Ireland, which owns the S92s used in search and rescue around Ireland, contacted the Department of Transport after Sikorsky issued the alert and then called in its engineers to carry out the precautionary work at the four bases.

Sikorsky issued a notice known as an alert service bulletin relating to the tail rotors. It called for visual checks on the helicopters before the next flight.

The company said the alert applied to all of the 280 S92s around the world and insisted it was an "inspection action, not a fleet grounding".

A US spokeswoman for the manufacturer said: "Safety is our top priority and Sikorsky is working closely with our customers and investigative authorities to determine the root cause of the loss of tail rotor authority in the December 28 installation landing."

Investigations into the North Sea incident are continuing.

Sikorksy said the alert service bulletin is to define "additional interim inspection requirements for the S92 tail rotor pitch change shaft (PCS)".

"We will further communicate findings if the investigation reveals any safety or airworthiness issues that affect the S92 helicopter fleet," the spokeswoman said.

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