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AS32, en-route, North Sea UK, 2002

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On 28th February 2002, an Aerospatiale AS332L Super Puma helicopter en route approximately 70 nm northeast of Scatsa, Shetland Islands was in the vicinity of a storm cell when a waterspout was observed about a mile abeam. Soon afterwards, violent pitch, roll and yaw with significant negative and positive ‘g’ occurred. Recovery to normal flight was achieved after 15 seconds and after a control check, the flight was completed. After flight, all five tail rotor blades and tail pylon damage were discovered. It was established that this serious damage was the result of contact between the blades and the pylon.
Event Details
When February 2002
Actual or Potential
Event Type
Loss of Control, Weather
Day/Night Day
Flight Conditions VMC
Flight Details
Aircraft AEROSPATIALE AS-332 Super Puma
Operator Bristow Helicopters
Domicile United Kingdom
Type of Flight Public Transport (Passenger)
Intended Destination Scatsta
Take off Commenced Yes
Flight Airborne Yes
Flight Completed Yes
Flight Phase Cruise
Approx. 70 NM NE of Scatsa, Shetland Islands, UK
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Tag(s) Environmental Factors,
Temporary Control Loss
Tag(s) Low Level Windshear
Damage or injury Yes
Aircraft damage Minor
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s) Aircraft Operation
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s) None Made
Investigation Type
Type Independent


On 28th February 2002, an Aerospatiale AS332L Super Puma helicopter en route from the Dunlin A offshore platform to Scatsa, Shetland Islands was 70 nm north east of its destination in day VMC when sudden severe turbulence occurred in the vicinity of a waterspout. After a brief departure from normal flight, a recovery was achieved and no adverse handling effects were present. After landing at destination it became apparent that the tail pylon and all five tail rotor blades had been damaged during the earlier episode.

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Further Reading

For further information, including flight history , see the full AAIB Incident Report