THE choppers flown by Pawan Hans for Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) meet the required safety standards for offshore operations, revealed an audit conducted by safety experts. According to senior ONGC and Pawan Hans officials, the choppers comply with the standards of operating procedures and do not breach any regulatory framework, officials said. After five senior ONGC officials and two Pawan Hans pilots died when the chopper, Dauphin N3, flying them offshore, crashed on January 13, the ONGC called for a technical audit of the equipment by Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI).
It is a third party non-profit professional aviation body that inspected each chopper flown by ONGC from its Mumbai base. In a statement, the ONGC said: “In the aftermath of the unfortunate helicopter incident on January 13, 2018, ONGC, as an immediate measure, engaged RWSI on January 19, 2018. Records establish that all Standard Operating Procedures regarding helicopter safety are followed.”
Pawan Hans operates eight AS 365 N3 choppers of the Dauphin make — four from Mumbai and the rest from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh for offshore operations of ONGC. The average age of these choppers vary between five-seven years. Speaking to the Indian Express on the preliminary result of audits, T N Dayasagar, Executive Director (Operations and Technical) Pawan Hans, said: “As per the RWSI audit, there has been no regulatory breach in the standard of helicopters, used by ONGC, at any stage. The choppers are meeting the stringent standard off shore requirement and back up maintenance.”
Pawan Hans later conducted a technical and safety audit of Dauphin N3 choppers flying with ONGC by OEM M/s Airbus that manufactures the choppers between February 6-10, 2018. “After the RWSI audit, we wanted Airbus to conduct a high level audit of the eight aircraft owned by Pawan Hans. They sent a team of their technical experts in avionics and quality specialists to audit the aircraft used by us,” Dayasagar added.
“As per the RWSI report, all helicopters hired by the ONGC are being operated by qualified pilots as per regulatory as well ONGC standards. In the Airbus audit, the team found that helicopters airworthy, maintained and operated as per manufacturers guidelines and there are no non-compliances,” M S Boora, the general manager, safety, Pawan Hans, said.
Senior officials of Pawan Hans added that a high level team of safety officials has been appointed at the Mumbai base to check maintenance of ONGC choppers on a regular basis. They are in the process to appoint an international global safety expert agency to conduct a third party audit of their choppers, officials added.