FILE - In this file photo dated Sunday May 1, 2016, helicopter rotor blades are loaded onto a truck following the Friday April 29 helicopter crash on the coast of Norway near Bergen. Norway's Accident Investigation Board report Thursday July 5, 2018, that "a fatigue fracture" in the main rotor gearbox caused the Airbus EC-225 helicopter to crash off western Norway, killing all 13 people on board. (Torstein Boe / NTB scanpix FILE via AP)

Norwegian probe: Gearbox failure cause fatal 2016 crash

July 05, 2018 - 9:13 am

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — "A fatigue fracture" in the main rotor gearbox caused an Airbus helicopter to crash off western Norway in 2016, killing all 13 people on board, Norway's Accident Investigation Board said Thursday.

The Airbus EC-225 helicopter was carrying workers from an offshore rig in the North Sea before it went down on Turoey, a tiny island outside Bergen, Norway's second-largest city. Eleven Norwegians, one Briton and one Italian were killed.

The helicopter's rotor blade spiraled down minutes before the aircraft crashed, and the rotor was found on land, a hundred meters (yards) from the fuselage that crashed into the sea.

The board's final report excluded human error and maintenance actions by the helicopter operator.

The probe "has shown that the combination of material properties, surface treatment, design, operational loading environment and debris gave rise to a failure mode which was not previously anticipated or assessed," it said in its conclusion.

Agency spokesman Kaare Halvorsen urged Airbus to revise the gearbox design.

There was no immediate reaction from Toulouse, France-based Airbus.

The crash bore similarities with a fatal 2009 accident off Scotland with a similar type of helicopter in which 16 people died. In that accident, a helicopter plunged into the North Sea during clear, calm and sunny conditions, killing two crew and 14 oil workers.

Norway's largest oil and gas company — then known as Statoil, now Equinor — said the 11 passengers were employed by various companies: the Houston-based Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger N.V., Norwegian firms Aker Solutions and Karsten Moholt, the Danish robotics company Welltec, and Statoil.

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