Antonov Airlines and Chapman Freeborn have taken part in a test flight to transport a capping stick used in the event of an oil spill, by air.
The test flight, the first time that a complete capping stack has been transported by air, means that oil companies can reach faraway oil spills much faster and cap the wells more quickly.
Antonov worked with Chapman Freeborn and its client Oil Spill Response (OSRL) deploying an Antonov AN-124 to carry the fully assembled subsea capping stack and housing, which weighed 85.5 tonnes and measured 11.5 by 5.5 by 3.9 metres.
Prior to the successful one hour 23 minute test flight to and from Stavanger in Norway, transporting capping stack equipment by air would have meant breaking it down into multiple payloads and reassembling it at the destination, before moving it to the incident site.
Antonov Airlines UK sales manager, Martin Griffiths says: “This was a very important test flight, as this represents the first time anyone has transported a capping stack on an aircraft that would be used in the event of an oil spill emergency, enabling a much quicker response anywhere in the world.”
To enable the movement of the capping stack in a single operation, OSRL worked with L+M to design and build a bespoke frame, with support from Trendsetter, the capping stack manufacturer.
The efforts were supported by the engineers from Antonov Company’s design bureau, who ensured proper distribution of the capping stack weight along the cargo cabin floor and acceptable minimal clearances from the cabin frames.
Antonov Airlines also reviewed and approved stress levels of the combined skid/capping stack design for the maximum flight G-forces.
OSRL SWIS team technical manager, Chris Lund says: “When every minute counts, the number one priority is stopping the flow of hydrocarbons as quickly as possible. The ability to transport a fully assembled capping stack by air is a critical development for the industry.
“Sea transport remains the most likely mobilisation option for the majority of well sites, but for wells in more remote areas, this is a vital addition to our subsea capping and containment offering.”