HeliOffshore conference renews commitment to invest in safety

8 May, 19,

Stakeholders from across the offshore helicopter industry have agreed key next steps to achieve safety excellence in those areas that matter most to saving lives. At the 2019 conference of international safety association HeliOffshore, almost 200 leaders from member companies forged new plans to ensure that the right resources are in place to deliver lasting results to frontline operations.

During the conference, held in the Greek capital Athens on 4th-5th May, helicopter operators and their oil company customers, along with aircraft manufacturers, leasing companies and other HeliOffshore members, were aligned about the compelling value proposition for investing in safety, despite the challenging business conditions now facing the industry. Discussion focused on how to make the business case for implementing safety programmes.

Addressing the challenging business conditions now facing the industry, the conference heard from Oil & Gas UK CEO Deirdre Michie and Damien Oliver, Aviation Programme Director of the UK Maritime Coastguard, who explained how a value-based approach to procurement treats safety as both an assurance and a risk mitigation measure. The value of investment in safety was amply illustrated by Karl Fessenden, president and CEO of CHC Helicopter and a HeliOffshore board member, in a presentation about how the company recently rescued passengers from the Viking Sky Norwegian cruise ship after its engines failed in a severe storm.

The conference heard about plans for the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) to establish a new Joint Industry Project (JIP) to fund work in support of its Project Safira goal of eliminating fatalities from the upstream energy business. The JIP, which is currently being review by IOGP member companies and will then be presented to IOGP’s Management Committee, could result in fresh investment of £600,000 in the first 12 months. Initially, it would support the HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme (HSIP), as well as Operational Effectiveness workstream projects such as evidence-based training, pilot eye-tracking research and a new weather and rig location trial, as well as the Human Hazard Analysis training and support work being advanced by the association System Reliability & Resilience workstream.

HSIP is now gathering operational data from operators who collectively account for around 85 percent of the global offshore helicopter fleet. HeliOffshore’s Safety Steering Group has given approval for the programme to be expanded to include Flight Data Monitoring data for full flights and all parameters. The HSIP team is finalising a new industry report that will give the first ever accurate summary of the sector’s safety performance. HSIP project manager Dr Matthew Greaves told the conference that data gathered so far has already confirmed that HeliOffshore’s workstreams are focusing their efforts on addressing the most common causes of accidents and safety incidents, namely controlled flight into terrain, system failure and loss of control.

The HeliOffshore Board of Directors gave two awards in recognition of exceptional contributions to the association’s collaboration for safety.

The individual award went to David Balevic, senior vice president for engineering & operations with CHC Helicopter, for his leadership of HeliOffshore’s Technical Steering Group. He has supported and encouraged workstream colleagues in achieving early results from new collaborations around Human Hazard Analysis and the Return to Base Study. Both are now set to deliver meaningful and positive change for safety.

A group award went to the team involved in HeliOffshore’s Human Hazard Analysis programme. Launched in 2018, this programme has taken on the goal of better supporting safety critical frontline maintenance through effective design, training and procedures. By bringing engineers from operators and manufacturers together for workshops focusing on specific aircraft types, HeliOffshore members have quickly been able to drive significant improvements in both how aircraft are maintained and how they are designed. So far, workshops have been held at three sites across Europe to focus on Airbus’s H225 and H175 aircraft and Leonardo’s AW139. Now there are plans to take the Human Hazard Analysis approach to Sikorsky’s S-92, as well as to develop a training programme for aircraft design engineers and to take action on the top findings from the workshops. The award was collected by Matteo Ragazzi, head of airworthiness at Leonardo Helicopters, Gilles Bruniaux, vice president and head of aviation safety at Airbus Helicopters, and Eddie Lane, president of Heli-One.

Finally, it was confirmed that General Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Bin Jamaluddin (CEO of Weststar Aviation Services) and Josiah Choms (Managing Director of Caverton Helicopters) will be serving a second three-year term as directors of HeliOffshore.

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