The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today released its safety review into offshore public transport helicopter operations. This review follows the launch of an inquiry into safety standards after a number of tragic accidents in Oil & Gas offshore helicopter operations since 2009.

The review offers a number of recommendations and measures for the CAA, EASA (as the primary airworthiness institution for helicopter operations) and the wider helicopter industry.

Notable measures for the CAA include:

  • From 1st June 2014, flights in the most severe sea conditions will be prohibited (to ensure greater recovery of survivors should an accident occur).
  • Emergency Flotation Systems are to be armed for all over-water departures & arrivals
  • Passengers must be seated next to emergency exit windows (except where there are greater breathing systems & extra flotation devices are available).
  • Passengers must be equipped with better breathing systems – to increase underwater survival time.
  • The CAA will seek to assume responsibility for the certification of UK helidecks, conduct a review into offshore communication handling, and change selected pilot training and checking processes.

Key recommendations for EASA:

  • Establishing a review of offshore helicopter accidents and incidents with national aviation organisations
  • Introducing procedures to monitor and track the efficiency and reliability of maintenance interventions.
  • Make safety and survival training for passengers a requirement
  • Ensuring helicopter manufacturers review their recommended training material so pilots are better prepared for operating modern highly complex helicopters.

Measures for the wider helicopter industry:

  • Offshore operators to fit side floats, implement automatic flotation equipment, add hand holds next to push out windows and improve life rafts and lifejackets.
  • Approved Training Organisations and helicopter AOC holders improve communication with manufacturers on a range of training procedures and pilot techniques.
  • The Met Office and operators to fully implement triggered lightning forecast system, subject to satisfactory trials.