HAI ensures helicopter views considered at ICAO panel meeting

HAI ensures helicopter views considered at ICAO panel meeting

26-May-2016 Source: HAI

A top HAI representative recently travelled to a Montreal meeting of an International Civil Aviation Organization panel to help ensure that the helicopter industry’s views are considered in efforts to standardize global heliport design.

HAI Vice President of Operations Chris Martino attended the May 9-13 session of the Heliport Design Working Group of the ICAO’s Aerodrome Design and Operations Panel. The group meets periodically to issue, review and revise recommendations to ICAO leadership to improve the standards and recommended practices it publishes to guide worldwide development and design of heliports.

HAI attended representing the International Federation of Helicopter Associations, which it has been doing for more than 10 years as part of industry efforts to ensure that the standards and recommended practices provide the highest possible levels of safety while giving operators the flexibility to conduct business efficiently.

Martino said the May meeting, the ninth such session, concentrated on heliport design physical characteristics, firefighting, certification and safety management.

According to HAI Vice President of Regulations and international Affairs David York, there is still plenty of work for future meetings — starting with a session in October that will continue progress on such issues as lighting and markings, and firefighting.

These sessions are part of efforts to update ICAO standards and recommended procedures for heliports worldwide. This current meeting also focused on a new emphasis, mandated by the ICAO leadership, to rewrite heliport standards, making them appropriately balanced between prescriptive and performance-based standards. Some such standards, Martino said, must be written so they spell out how they are to be met. This is the case, he said, for example, with heliport markings, which should be as standardized as possible to prevent confusion.

For others, such as firefighting standards, they should be performance-based, rather than dictating how heliports should go about meeting them.

“The goal isn’t to be unnecessarily prescriptive. For example, dictating that you have to use a three-inch hose is far less effective than a stated performance level that you must be able to get the fire under control within X amount of time,” he said.

This move away from prescriptive regulations toward objective, or performance-based, regulations reflects a shift toward such regulatory philosophy by the ICAO.

As the federation’s representative, HAI presents the helicopter industry’s point of view in a forum whose other members are government representatives or representatives of manufacturers or the oil and gas industry.

“We were able to represent our industry, we were able to champion their causes. The bottom line is we were there to speak with a degree of experience, if you will, from the operators’ perspective,” Martino said.

“Hopefully, the result of our weeklong meeting in Montreal is an improved set of standards that enhance safety and promote flexibility.”

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