R44 grounding lifted, inspections required
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has lifted the grounding of Robinson 44 helicopters fitted with C016-7 main rotors blades.
This follows the imposition of new inspection requirements for the C016-7 rotor blades.
R44 operators will now be required to carry out a visual inspection of the main rotor blades before every flight for any signs of damage.
CASA has issued an airworthiness directive to mandate the R44 main rotor blade inspections.
Pilots can conduct the visual inspections.
Details of the inspections have been set out by Robinson Helicopters in a safety alert issued on 23 February 2015.
The safety alert says a careful visual inspection of a particular area of the main rotor blade will provide early detection of fatigue cracking.
Pilots who detect any unusual rotor system vibration during flight must land immediately and have the blades inspected by an engineer.
CASA grounded R44 helicopters with C016-7 main rotors blades on Saturday 21 February 2015 after a serious incident in New Zealand where a blade cracked and then a more recent fatal accident also in New Zealand.
Preliminary information from the accident investigation indicates the main rotor blade may have suffered impact damage rather than cracking.
There are 485 Robinson 44 helicopters registered in Australia, with a significant number fitted with the C016-7 main rotor blade.
The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority had also grounded R44 helicopters with C017-7 blades and have now lifted that restriction and imposed the same inspection requirements.
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