UK, Norway start joint review of offshore helicopter safety

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a review of offshore helicopter operations in the North Sea.

Offshore staff

LONDON – Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a review of offshore helicopter operations in the North Sea. This will be conducted jointly with the Norwegian CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and advised by a panel of independent experts.

The goals are to study current operations, previous incidents and accidents, offshore helicopter flights in other countries, and to issue recommendations to improve the safety of offshore flying.

Despite efforts by regulators, operators, and the offshore industry to limit the risks ofNorth Sea helicopter operations there have been five accidents in the past four years, two of which resulted in fatalities. The most recent occurred this summer close to Sumburgh Airport, Shetland in the far north of the UK sector.

The review will include a study comparing UK and Norwegian operations, and will focus in particular on operators’ decision making and internal management; protection of passengers and crew; pilot training and performance; and helicopter airworthiness. Findings will be published early in 2014.

Mark Swan, director of the CAA’s Safety and Airspace Regulation Group, said: “The recent accidents have understandably given rise to concerns, particularly with offshore workers who rely so heavily on these helicopter flights. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that operations are as safe as possible.”

Robert Paterson, health, safety, and employment issues director at Oil & Gas UK, said: “Considerable efforts have already been made by regulators, operators, and the offshore industry to minimize 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.”

9/25/2013

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