Oil & Gas UK: Offshore Flights Safety Concerns Taken Very Seriously

The photo shows the Centrica CPC1 platform with the new helideck lighting in place.

Oil & Gas UK has released a response with regards to the Unite’s  ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign which calls for immediate improvements to the safety of offshore flights. 

“Oil & Gas UK acknowledges the concerns raised by the Unite Union and takes them very seriously. Oil & Gas UK is working closely with Step Change in Safety, which is aware of similar concerns raised by the workforce, with the helicopter operators to review the emergency lighting inside the passenger cabin and with Eurocopter to review the seating configuration of the EC225,” the industry body said in the response.

Unite (and indeed RMT and BALPA) is fully and actively participating in the work of the Step Change Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) and the Helicopter Task Group. The Task Group is a special group (reporting to HSSG) set up (including Union and workforce representatives) to focus efforts on learning from the recent helicopter crash and taking action wherever appropriate.

The implementation of safety recommendations from past offshore helicopter incidents are the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Oil & Gas UK monitors certain recommendations and pays close attention to the regulators’ outputs. An example of this is the requirement to improve helideck perimeter lighting which was made several years ago; the industry is currently working with CAA to improve the visibility of lighting in the central area of the helideck.

Currently, there are a number of investigations and reviews taking place following the fatal accident off Sumburgh. The Air Accident Investigation Branch, UK and Norwegian CAA review, Police Scotland investigation to support a Fatal Accident Inquiry. In addition the helicopter companies are currently conducting a review to identify best practice in their operations and will draw on the knowledge of a range of experts; and Oil & Gas UK is currently looking at the resilience and flexibility of the helicopter fleet so that the industry can be better prepared should helicopter transport becomes limited or unavailable for an extended period, for a variety of foreseeable reasons.

Robert Paterson, Oil & Gas Health and Safety Director, said: “Helideck lighting was raised as an issue after an incident involving a helicopter in February 2009. The CAA subsequently issued further guidance for improvements to the helideck circle and H should also be made. Industry trials are near completion and improved helideck circle and H lights will be fitted over the next few years”.

The flotation devices on the current fleet of helicopters have been designed for a controlled landing on water, such as the two controlled landings on 10 May and 22 October 2012. EASA is currently reviewing helicopter flotation arrangements including whether it can be configured to enable a helicopter to float on its side, following a controlled landing on water.

Oil & Gas UK and Robert Gordon Uuniversity (RGU) are engaged in a year-long study into the size and shape of offshore workers. The study will inform the future design and operation of offshore infrastructure and equipment, such as the survival suit.

November 06, 2013