8-Apr-2020 Source: HeliHub.com
Offshore operator CHC has produced an adaption for their offshore AW139s in the Netherlands to provide a safety screen between the pilots and the passengers during the COVID19 pandemic. Quinten Hergaarden, Deputy Accountable Manager at CHC Helicopters Netherlands spoke with HeliHub.com to explain the project further.
With the AW139 cabin reduced from 12 to 8 passengers (for social distancing purposes), a further risk assessment was done to minimise the business continuity risk for the operator. This exercise identified that the pilots were the weakest link in the chain, and thus there was a pressing need to protect them. Various options were looked at, including the use of Night IFR screens, but the lead time on these did not make this a practical solution.
Working with oil company customers, the CAA in the Netherlands and Leonardo Helicopters, CHC found that there are articles in the regulations which allowed them to swiftly develop and test their own solution. The urgency of the need to respond has resulted in taking this from first idea to implementation in daily flight routine – in just two weeks.
The screen, seen in the image below, is best described as being similar to a boat cover. The ideal solution was for the whole of the screen to be clear, but there was insufficient material available at short notice, so the bottom half is blue. The flammability of the material was proven from existing data for the material. Smoke tests were carried out and demonstrated – the screen is sealed around its perimeter by a combination of screws, velcro and aviation-grade tape.
CHC expects to add UK CAA approval this week, and is on the point of completing the roll out to their North Sea fleet, with six AW139s operating from Netherlands and three from the UK.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com