(Adds Statoil, Sikorsky comments)
OSLO/LONDON Jan 10 Norway's Statoil
said on Tuesday it expected to gradually resume flights of
Sikorsky S-92 helicopters it uses to transport offshore workers,
after all flights were stopped earlier in the day for safety
The Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, which manufactures the
helicopters, issued a service notice on Tuesday, saying the tail
rotor and bearing assemblies of the S-92 should be checked
following an incident in Scotland last December.
Sikorsky is a unit of Lockheed Martin Corp.
"We are starting to resume flights gradually this afternoon
as helicopters are checked and put back in flight," Statoil's
The decision to stop the flights meant Statoil's workers
were left stranded on oil platforms as the S-92 is the only
model used by the company to transport people offshore Norway.
Statoil stopped using H225 Super Puma helicopters, a
workhorse of the offshore oil industry, following a fatal crash
Sikorsky said the inspections could take about 11 hours, but
the time depended on each operator.
"We have already been informed that many operators have
already completed these inspections, and we anticipate the
majority of the fleet will have the initial inspection
accomplished within the next 24-48 hours," a spokesman said in
In Britain, where S-92 flights were also stopped, the oil
and gas industry lobby group said the inspections would create
some "short-term disruption to operations" in the North Sea.
One of Britain's offshore operators, Shell, said it
was working on alternative flight provision.
Sikorsky said in a separate note it was working closely with
customers to determine the root cause of a problem with the tail
rotor during a landing on a rig off Scotland on Dec. 28.
A spokesman for Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch
said the authority was still investigating the incident near
Both Statoil and Shell said their offshore production wasn't
affected by the suspension of flights.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Karolin Schaps; Editing by
Stine Jacobsen and Mark Potter)