On 12 December 2013, a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter, registered 9M-STE, collided with the sea during bad weather off the Bintulu coast, Malaysia.  Both pilots and six oil platform workers were rescued. An investigation into the circumstances of the accident is being conducted by the Malaysian Air Accident Investigation Board (MAAIB).

The MAAIB requested assistance from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in the download and analysis of the helicopter’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

To facilitate this support and to provide the appropriate protections for the CVR information, the ATSB appointed an accredited representative in accordance with paragraph 5.23 of ICAO Annex 13 and commenced an investigation under the Australian Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.

The CVR unit from the accident helicopter, a Universal Avionics Systems Corporation model CVR-30A, was brought to the ATSB’s Canberra technical facilities by two Malaysian air safety investigators on 20 May 2014. Subsequent disassembly showed evidence of water ingress into the recorder’s crash-protected module. Following cleaning and drying, a download in accordance with the CVR manufacturer’s specifications, was attempted. However the download was unsuccessful.

Following a dialogue with the CVR manufacturer a supplementary procedure for the data recovery was developed and agreed to by all parties. The supplementary procedure involved removal and download of all 66 memory devices from the module that was involved in the accident. The data from each device was then written to new memory devices, which were then mounted on a new memory module.

A full download of the recorded CVR information was made on the 14 October 2014 and the MAAIB was immediately advised of the successful recovery of the information. The digital audio files relating to each of the four channels were then provided to the MAAIB via secure file transfer.

The MAAIB is responsible for releasing the final investigation report regarding this accident.

The MAAIB can be contacted via: