Health & Safety

On 29 April 2015, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced new proposals aimed at improving the safety of helicopter operations to the North Sea’s 116 normally unattended offshore installations.

The proposals follow an independent report compiled by Cranfield University, commissioned by the CAA and will be taken forward by a joint industry working group, featuring the CAA, helicopter operators, offshore industry and pilot union representatives. The work will focus on addressing the risk posed by fire following any incident involving a helicopter on the helideck of a normally unattended installation.

With a firm focus on prevention, the CAA has proposed a combination of the following measures:-

  • Helicopters will only be able to fly to unattended installations if they have full capability to fly safely on one engine following loss of power of its other engine.
  • Helicopters will be equipped with fully crashworthy systems to reduce the risk of post impact fire.
  • Changes to helidecks, such as the fitting of automatic fire fighting systems.

CAA Director of Safety and Airspace Mark Swan said: “The safety of the offshore flying has increased considerably over the past year. One area we want to focus on specifically is flights to unattended installations which, because there may be no one on the rig to assist following an accident, don’t have the same level of safety as manned rigs. We will therefore progress this work as a priority to ensure offshore workers flying to these installations have the highest levels of safety possible. We believe the initial proposals are both proportionate and achievable and will address the risk.”

Ryan Openshaw