After the fatal crash of a Bell 212 near Evansburg, Alberta, Canada on June 28th, the US Forest Service, and similarly, many state agencies including CalFire, has temporarily grounded all Bell 212 and 205 series helicopters from firefighting operations. Many 205’s are equipped with a 212 rotor hub that may, as suspected in the Canadian crash, suffer a catastrophic failure resulting in delamination of the main rotor blades causing them to disintegrate in flight.
Bell Helicopter has been swift in identifying the issue and issuing an immediate service bulletin that details a small amount of main rotor hub strap pins that may have been manufactured incorrectly and not to manufacturers specifications causing pins with as little as 24 hours on them to deform and in at least one case, cause destruction of the main rotor after continued use. Bell stated that at this time, P/N 204-012-104-005 are affected and strap pins with the prefix “FNFS” should be immediately removed from service.
It is unknown how long the fleet of firefighting aircraft will be down, although Bell notes that inspection times to identify if the affected part range from one hour to identify, up to 20 hours for full replacement of the affected part.