The Civil Aviation Authority,the UK’s specialist aviation regulator, has said it is undertaking a review of North Sea helicopter operations.
It is a joint review with the Norwegian CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and advised by a panel of independent experts. It will study current operations, previous incidents and accidents and offshore helicopter flying in other countries to make recommendations aimed at improving the safety of offshore flying.
Although there has been considerable effort by regulators, operators and the offshore industry to minimise the risk of North Sea helicopter operations there have been five accidents in the past four years, two of which tragically resulted in fatalities.
The review will be led by the CAA’s Head of Flight Operations, Captain Bob Jones who will work closely with Geir Hamre, Head of helicopter safety for the Norwegian CAA. They will be supported by a team of experts who will consult with a wide range of individuals and organisations involved in offshore flying. The final review will also be subject to scrutiny by independent specialists.
The review will pay particular attention to:
Operators decision making and internal management-,
The protection of passengers and crew;
Pilot training and performance;
It will include a comparison study of UK operations with those in Norway. The findings of the review are due to be published in early 2014.
The UK oil industry body Oil & Gas UK has embraced the move. Robert Paterson, Oil & Gas UK’s health, safety and employment issues director, said: “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the CAA’s review of offshore helicopter operations in the North Sea and we and our members stand ready to engage fully in the process. As the CAA highlights in its announcement, considerable efforts have already been made by regulators, operators and the offshore industry to minimise the risk of operations so the industry is keen to contribute to a review of the current situation to ensure that the flights taken by its workforce are as safe as possible. In addition, we will consider the CAA’s terms of reference with a view to identifying and addressing helicopter operational issues not covered by the CAA safety review.”
September 25, 2013