Nepali helicopter operators have sought Airlines operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) help in getting compensation from the French helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter.
The manufacturer has provided Mountain Helicopters, Simrik Air and Fishtail Air helicopters with 'faulty engine', the operators claimed in the letter to the AOAN.
"Though the helicopters are delivering best performance at high altitude flight, the operators are suffering from premature engine failure," they said, adding that the manufacturer should pay the compensation for the repair cost as well as business loss.
Basically the Time Between Overhaul (TBO), the engine manufacturer (Turbomeca, France) assured us 3,500 hours but the engines have started showing premature failures in 230 hours to 1,100 hours creating huge loss to the operators, they claimed, asking the AOAN to take up the issue with Eurocopter, and lend support to the claims of aggrieved operators.
"Both Eurocopter and Turbomeca should take up the issue at their higher management level as we feel that this is not being solved to the operators satisfaction at the field representatives level," they added.They have taken the issue to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) also.
The AOAN had also formed an investigation committee on premature failure of 2B1 engines of Eurocopter helicopters and the committee has already submitted the report to the AOAN.
After investigating the case of problems on engine module 3 of ARRIEL 2B1 engines installed on AS-350B3 currently operating in Nepal, the team concluded that all the AS350B3 operators have found similar problems of degradation of T4 margin during Power Assurance Check (PAC); premature failure resulting untimely replacement of Engine module 3 (MO3); the manufacturer is not taking the issue seriously and being adequately responsive to the operators; despite operators strictly following the procedures laid down on the Maintenance Manual as well as the specialist’s advises from Turbomeca, the problem still persists; due to the engine premature failure problem, Fishtail Air and Mountain Helicopter have already replaced MO3 on their engines and Simrik Air has also closed its high altitude operations compelling all the three of them to rethink the viability of B3 operation in Nepal and they should be compensated for the repair cost as well as business loss.
The committee reported that each of three engines has the same symptom — HP turbine blade tips were found damaged by rubbing on shroud — apart from the same symptoms of rapid drop in T4 margin and Boroscopic finding of turbine blade rubbing on the shroud. "It seems that the engine is not being able to cope up the high temperature over long periods which have resulted in the turbine rubbed as evidence in the Boroscopic check," the committee concluded.