An EASA rule that takes effect in October opens the door to offshore oil-and-gas helicopter passengers’ using personal electronic devices (PED), but operators seem unlikely to go ahead with the much-desired change. The Annex 4 of Part-CAT grants exceptions to the general principle–no PED use in flight–and makes it clear that implementation is at the discretion of the operator. A company can thus allow the use of PEDs during all phases of flight, though transmitting PEDs such as cellphones are not allowed to be used during taxi, takeoff and landing.
However, a Héli-Union operations engineer told AIN that the operator, which is active in West Africa and Myanmar, will continue to prohibit the use of any PED in flight. He cited the risk of loose objects flying around the cabin in case of turbulence or a hard landing.
The Step Change in Safety organization, which includes North Sea stakeholders, will probably not change its own zero-PED practice. A spokesperson referred to “the possibility of interference with helicopter avionics systems” and “being able to hear safety announcements.”