Australia Proposes New Helicopter Winch Rules
Following a number of recent helicopter accidents, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) last month issued a notice of proposed rule-making aimed at improving the safety of helicopter external sling load and winching and rappelling operations. Winching and rappelling is generally associated with emergencies and, as a result, carries greater inherent risk than other helicopter operations, says the CASA. Such operations are also time-sensitive and are often conducted under challenging environmental conditions. The CASA says Australia’s current requirements do not reflect the latest risk assessment and management concepts. The agency therefore proposes that operators “consider that pre-flight risk analysis will help prevent accidents by enabling risk mitigation strategies before flight.” In 2013, a man died after falling 100 feet while being winched aboard an Ambulance Victoria helicopter in a remote location in Victoria; and in 2011 a paramedic died during a winching accident in New South Wales. Comments are due to CASA by June 27. The authority expects any proposed rules will become effective by the end of this year.