Offshore Helicopter Safety (UK)

UK Parliament scrutiny body (Transport Committee) calls for a public inquiry (following a series of helicopter crashes).

The Transport Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the UK Department for Transport and its Associate Public Bodies.

In August 2013, a helicopter crashed into the sea while on approach to Sumburgh Airport on Shetland. Four passengers were killed. That was the fifth helicopter accident since 2009 involving the transfer of oil and gas industry personnel to and from offshore installations in the North Sea.

Per the Transport Committee’s Second Report (30 June 2014) – “The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigation into the crash uncovered a number of deeply worrying events. Specifically, the AAIB found pre-flight briefing material did not fully represent the type of Emergency Breathing System (EBS) supplied to passengers. This caused problems for some survivors of the crash who told us they decided not to use the EBS based on the safety briefing. We call for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure that helicopter operators, in collaboration with the offshore work force, review all safety briefing material to guarantee that it is up to date and fit for purpose. We also call for the AAIB to keep crash survivors better informed on the progress of their investigations and, along with the CAA, to meet survivors to take on board their ideas for improving safety.”

“The Sumburgh crash prompted the CAA to launch a wide-ranging review into offshore helicopter safety. In February 2014, the CAA published its review of offshore helicopter safety, which made strong recommendations on safety governance, airworthiness and equipment. We welcome that review and congratulate the CAA on quickly establishing the Offshore Helicopter Safety Action Group to implement the CAA’s findings. At the same time, we highlight areas which we believe require more work, particularly on the problems caused by the diverse customer requirements for helicopter pilots and on the impact of seating restrictions on workers and their livelihoods.”

The full report summary is here.

Background

Aviation regulation within the UK is evolving from a national model under the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to a pan-European model under the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In the areas for which EASA is responsible, such as aircraft certification, continued airworthiness and aircrew regulation, the CAA serves as EASA’s local office to implement regulations. In areas for which EASA is not responsible, the CAA serves as the primary regulator. From 28 October 2014, Commission Regulation (EU) 965/2012 will apply to the UK. This EU regulation will supersede national regulations on safety requirements during offshore helicopter operations.

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