HeliOffshore steps up on key projects to achieve life-saving safety improvements

HeliOffshore steps up on key projects to achieve life-saving safety improvements

2-Oct-2017 Source: HeliOffshore

HeliOffshore is stepping up work on key projects that it has prioritised as having the greatest potential to save lives in offshore helicopter operations around the world. The association, which now has more than 100 members, is leading the offshore helicopter sector to close the safety gap with fixed-wing operations, with a new push to boost the industry’s strategic investment in enhancing safety performance.

With the offshore industry facing significant economic challenges, it is important to ensure that there is no loss of focus on safety. To this end, HeliOffshore has recently held very constructive meetings with the offshore community, including the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). The energy companies see that they have a vested interest in supporting this work to save lives, and their support could prove to be a force multiplier.

Priority projects continue to gain momentum through HeliOffshore’s growing collaboration between aircraft operators, oil and gas companies, manufacturers and service providers, and include the following:

·      Enhanced obstacle avoidance through the implementation of Helicopter Terrain Awareness Systems (HTAWS) for the offshore fleet

·      Improved system reliability and resilience to eliminate the main causes of
safety-critical system failure

·      Expansion of a major safety intelligence data programme that will collect and analyse helicopter flight data monitoring output from operators to identify causes and trends for operational safety performance issues

·      Collection of operational data to support the introduction of evidence-based training for helicopter flight crew

HeliOffshore has held discussions with IOGP about ways it might support safety projects with financial backing, leadership and the consistent application of safety requirements. IOGP’s safety committee has already signed a letter of intent supporting implementation of HTAWS across the offshore helicopter fleet.

More and more offshore stakeholders now appreciate the tangible value proposition that will see investments in safety rewarded with significantly higher cost savings from accidents averted. HeliOffshore’s inspiration comes from the fixed-wing air transport sector. Back in 1998, the airline industry—which had suffered 200 hull losses in the preceding 10 years—formed the Commercial Aviation Safety Team. This was to be the fulcrum for a major investment in air transport safety that was to survive the extreme financial hardship resulting from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The group set, and more than met, its goal of reducing fatalities by 80 percent, and saving over $600 million per year in the costs of accidents to the industry at the same time.

In addition to the HTAWS implementation programme, HeliOffshore’s Operational Effectiveness workstream is now starting work on the second-phase of eye-tracking research, which aims to help pilots make better use of automation in the cockpit. To achieved a better understanding of the pilot monitoring function, the research will compare the results of an anonymous flight crew survey with simulator trials.

The Operational Effectiveness workstream recently introduced approach path management guidelines that are based on collaboratively produced best practice on how to achieve safe, stabilised approaches. The guidelines are built around the five key elements needed for safe approaches: energy state; approach briefing; go-around management; monitoring procedures; and the use of automation. The group has also been working with OEMs, such as Airbus and Sikorsky, on introducing flight crew operating manuals.

HeliOffshore’s Safety Enablers workstream is taking the lead with the safety intelligence data programme. The new global data management system will be built around GE’s Predix big data platform. The association is about to sign a contract with two other companies that will provide expert IT support for the second and third phases of this key project.

Operators from around the world will input data into the system which will be tracked and shared to reach a clearer understanding of adverse safety issues and trends. From this, solutions will be devised through HeliOffshore’s collaborative process and will help make the business case and measure the safety benefits of HeliOffshore’s safety improvements.

Meanwhile, HeliOffshore’s System Reliability & Resilience workstream has started analysing aircraft reliability data gathered from the fleets of member operators. This has helped to identify priorities for safety improvement efforts in both technical and human systems. This helps to ensure that weak signals of potential system failures are visible and can be addressed, whilst also providing effective support for maintainers across the globe.

“HeliOffshore’s highly collaborative approach to enhancing safety now has an even stronger laser-focus on those projects that we believe have the greatest potential to save lives,” commented HeliOffshore CEO Gretchen Haskins. “All offshore stakeholders are now embracing the compelling value proposition of working and investing together to make the offshore working environment significantly safer.”

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