Aerospatiale AS332L Super Puma, G-TIGF, 21 January 2005

Aerospatiale AS332L Super Puma, G-TIGF

Summary:

The aircraft was operating a passenger service from Holland, to an offshore platform located approximately 150 km from the Dutch coast. Whilst avoiding a cumulo-nimbus cloud, which the crew had seen from a distance, a flash was seen in clear air to the left of the aircraft. There was no accompanying bang, static noise, electrical failure, variation in compass indication or change in vibration level. The crew concluded that the lightning was clear of the aircraft and therefore continued the flight to the offshore platform in accordance with their standard procedures. The remainder of the flight, including the return leg, was uneventful. Initial examination revealed slight damage to the main and tail-rotor blades. Subsequent detailed examination of the tail rotor blades left in doubt the initial view that they had been affected by lightning. Photographs of the main blade damage indicated that it was very much less severe than that resulting from a number of previous strikes to AS 332 main blades examined by the AAIB. A Sferics plot of actual lightning discharge locations for the relevant period shows only a small amount of low intensity activity in the relevant area of the North Sea. The crew reported that lightning activity was not included in the forecast for the route. It is known from previous events that the presence of an aircraft can act as a trigger for a lightning discharge when conditions conducive to lightning are present but no discharges have been observed. Although much effort has gone into improving forecasting for lightning risk in the North Sea lightning strikes to AS 332 aircraft continue to occur. Improvements to the tolerance of the type to such events appear, however, to have considerably reduced the risk of aircraft loss from this source.

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