Helicopters inspected after cracks are found

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THE European Aviation Safety Agency has imposed more checks on helicopters made by Eurocopter.

The global firm, which is based in the UK and has a manufacturing plant in Gosport, is having regular inspections made at the base of the rotor blades of its EC 135 aircraft.

The checks have been implemented after cracks were found in three of the twin-engined civil helicopters. It follows similar problems in 16 EC 135s used as air ambulances

‘This condition, if not detected, could lead to further crack propagation, possibly resulting in main rotor hub failure and consequent loss of the helicopter,’ EASA said in an emergency airworthiness directive.

In a separate emergency notice, it followed up on the ditching earlier this month of an EC 225 Super Puma helicopter in the North Sea.

EASA said preliminary investigations into the cause of the incident had discovered a crack on a shaft inside the gearbox.

A spokeswoman for Eurocopter, the world’s largest civil helicopter manufacturer, said that in both cases the two types of helicopter remained safe to fly.