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Era Group has received $42 million from Airbus Helicopters as part of a settlement of an ongoing lawsuit related to Era’s purchase of 11 H225 Super Pumas.
Era was one of several companies seeking remuneration from Airbus for aircraft they claimed were no longer airworthy, as well as damages and costs. Among a range of allegations in the lawsuits, it was alleged that Airbus sold the helicopters in a defective state due to an inherent problem in the H225’s main gearbox.
The allegations stem from the grounding of the global H225 fleet following the fatal crash of a CHC-operated H225 near Turøy, Norway, on April 29, 2016, which claimed the lives of all 11 passengers and two pilots on board after the main rotor separated from the fuselage.
In its final report on the accident, released July 5, 2018, the Accident Investigation Board of Norway said the cause of the accident was a fatigue fracture in one of eight second stage planet gears in the epicyclic module of the main rotor gearbox. The seizure of this caused the main rotor to detach.
In the weeks and months following the crash, regulatory agencies around the world lifted the grounding as Airbus Helicopters implemented a variety of measures designed to ensure the safe return to operation of the H225 fleet, including creating a “full-flow” magnetic plug to improve the detection of metal particles, excluding one of two types of planet gear from operation, and enhanced packaging for the main gearbox.
But in its lawsuit, filed in November 2016, Era alleged the representations made by Airbus regarding the safety, reliability, and design of the 225 and, in particular, the design and reliability of the main gear box, “were (and remain) demonstrably false in light of recent revelations by Airbus Helicopters that at least the second stage planet gears inside of the main gear box are irreparably defective, rendering the 225 unfit for flight.”
Airbus refuted the charge.
And in a third-quarter earnings call in November 2017, Era Group CEO Chris Bradshaw said the operator had reappraised its H225s at just $4 million per helicopter.
The settlement between the operator and the manufacturer covers “all claims made by Era against Airbus related to Airbus’ marketing and sale, and Era’s purchase, of 11 H225 model helicopters,” a stock exchange filing from Era states.
As part of the settlement, Airbus will also provide Era with “trade account credits” that can be used for up to five years. Neither party has admitted fault.