The Helicopter Association International (HAI) has appealed to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to further collaborate with the industry to improve communications and weather information for flight operations in the Gulf of Mexico. In a letter to Blakey written before Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the Gulf’s oil production, president Roy Resavage noted that a fleet of 650 helicopters transports about 11,000 people to and from 4,000 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf each day. “These operations are severely hampered by the lack of adequate weather information, inadequate low-altitude communications and surveillance capabilities, which directly contributes to unnecessarily high accident rates.”
Resavage noted the FAA’s efforts to improve high-altitude communications in the Gulf region and said, “This creates a unique window of opportunity to address low-altitude weather, communications and surveillance needs as well.” He pointed to the Geomex initiative, which would entail a collaborative effort among the FAA, platform/helicopter owners and helicopter operators to produce, install and support communications and weather systems and ground-based transceiver units in the Gulf.
According to Resavage, the major oil companies and helicopter operators in the Gulf of Mexico stand ready to sign the memorandum of agreement (MOA) and move forward.