The Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) met today, Monday 14 May, to share preliminary information on the recent helicopter ditching incident in the North Sea.
Making up the HSSG are helicopter operators, oil and gas operators and contractors, offshore trade unions, the pilots’ union BALPA, the regulators HSE and CAA and Oil & Gas UK.
Chaired by Apache’s Alan Chesterman and Bristow’s Tim Glasspool, the meeting involved sharing information from all three North Sea helicopter operators and an overview of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s (AAIB) ongoing investigation. Bond Offshore provided the group with background information to the incident and updated on the results of their engineering analysis. CHC and Bristow also outlined their current position with regards to continuing flight operations and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) provided the group with their own observations.
Representatives from the trade unions, RMT and Unite were also invited to provide their thoughts to the group.
Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety director, Robert Paterson, is a member of the HSSG and attended today’s meeting. He said: “This meeting was a chance for the offshore aviation community, oil and gas industry representatives and the workforce to meet and communicate the learning and lessons from the incident.
“We need to be satisfied that our workforce, who travel to their place of work by helicopter, do so safely and return home again safely.
“In order to maintain a level of confidence in flight operations, we look to the Regulators, investigators and other relevant authorities for their technical expertise and guidance.
“We understand that detailed discussions involving the manufacturer, Eurocopter, the AAIB and CAA have concluded that the particular models in question are fully airworthy. We have had assurances by the helicopter operators that their flight operations remain safe.
HSSG co-chair Alan Chesterman said: “The HSSG will be very closely monitoring the ongoing AAIB investigation and any output or recommendations from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the CAA.
“We will work to widely share throughout industry any learning from this incident, as well as continue our long-term work to improve helicopter safety.”
The remit of the Step Change Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) is to work proactively to identify and address cross-industry issues around helicopter safety, related to helicopter operations in the UK oil and gas industry. Click here for more information on the group.
The group was established in 2010 to as a permanent forum for helicopter safety issues, after the Helicopter Task Group, which successfully dealt with a wide range of aviation safety issues in the aftermath of the tragic Flight 85N on 1 April 2009, wound up. Click here for more information on this group, visit
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