The Helicopter Safety Advisory Committee (HSAC) is an opportunity for the stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) to come together and work on safety issues that affect the Oil and Gas industry. HAI Director of Safety Outreach Stan Rose joined helicopter operators, the energy companies, the regulators and other who operate in and around the Gulf for their most recent meeting in New Orleans on Thursday, Jan. 21.
At these meetings, participants work together collaboratively for the safety benefit of the entire industry.
In several presentations, the participants talked about the fact that this industry segment is facing financial challenges due to the declining price of oil. The group pointed out that this is no time to sacrifice progress made in safety and that the industry needs to resist the tendency to cut corners due to reduced budgets.
A case in point is the fact that, after nearly five years, the industry is approaching the time to renew the ADS-B agreement. And it comes at a time when resources are limited due to the declining price of oil. In this agreement, the FAA, HAI, helicopter operators and the energy companies agreed to work together to create and maintain a low-altitude IFR structure in the GOM.
The IFR system in the GOM has been very successful. Even though the number of IFR flights has decreased with the downturn in offshore activity, the percentage of IFR flights is still increasing and that is important to safe operations. The working group for the ADS-B program in the GOM discussed the problems associated with the closure of offshore platform that hold the ADS-B, AWOS and Communications necessary for conducting low-altitude IFR in the GOM and plan to create a working group to proactively plan for the future.
American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 2L is a document to create specifications for new construction of offshore helidecks. Although the RP has been sent to API for approval, HSAC will endorse the document and forward it to the other stakeholders in order to get this information out to the appropriate stakeholders. There was discussion about the need to create a working group to create a standard for helideck-specific approach plates that will contain all of the appropriate data (frequencies, hazards, approach directions, etc.) for a helideck.
The FAA addressed the group and outlined the agency’s new compliance philosophy. The agency wants to use this new approach to work with aviation operators in a collaborative manner rather than an enforcement approach. They are looking for a cooperative approach to bringing an operator into compliance rather than creating paperwork through the LOI process.
The next HSAC meeting is scheduled May 18-19 in Houston.
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