Safety concerns loom large in offshore helicopter operations as a critical shortage of spare parts, notably main gearboxes (MGBs) for the Sikorsky S-92, puts the industry at risk. The aviation sub-committee of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) has issued a stark warning about the impending crisis. Currently, 31 S-92 helicopters are grounded, awaiting essential gearbox replacements, a number expected to double by the end of 2024.
A looming shortage of spare parts, particularly main gearboxes (MGBs) for the Sikorsky S-92, poses a grave threat to the safety of offshore helicopter operations, according to a warning issued by the aviation sub-committee of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). Currently, 31 S-92 helicopters are grounded, awaiting replacement gearboxes, a number expected to soar to over 60 by next year’s end.
The aerospace industry’s supply chain woes, combined with the offshore sector’s heavy reliance on the S-92 for high-capacity or long-range missions, are contributing to a severe shortage of available aircraft.
With aircraft dispatch reliability rates plummeting from the industry norm of 96% to approximately 80%, operators are struggling to meet customer demand, leading to operational disruptions and challenges.
These difficulties have also placed immense pressure on maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) providers, resulting in an unprecedented surge in parts cannibalization, maintenance extension requests, and maintenance-related incidents.
The IOGP warns that without intervention, the conditions are ripe for a major safety incident. Sikorsky, the manufacturer of the S-92, attributes the problem to a combination of increased flying hours and ongoing supply chain issues, and while they have invested extensively to address the problem, a solution is not expected before the end of 2024. In the interim, the IOGP calls for a collaborative approach among its members to ensure safety and resilience in the face of these challenges.
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