FSF intros standards for safety of mining ops

 - February 23, 2010, 10:39 AM

The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) has developed a common safety approach for global companies operating aircraft in the mining and resources sector, and the plan has received the endorsement of the Minerals Council of Australia, which represents resource companies producing more than 85 percent of that country’s annual mineral output.

The resources sector increasingly relies on aircraft for employee movement and a variety of other activities such as geological surveys, helicopter external load missions and offshore operations, and the aircraft used can range from single-engine airplanes and helicopters to Boeing 737s. In the past operators had to adhere to multiple standards and expectations that often caused confusion and distracted key operational and technical managers from their primary duties.

The FSF created its Basic Aviation Risk (Bar) Standard Program in an attempt to standardize risk management.

“Aviation risk management has always been one of the single greatest challenges to the safety of personnel in the resource sector,” said Trevor Jensen, FSF international program director and head of the Bar program. “Combined with the challenging and often remote areas of operation, additional variables increase the difficulty, including the variety of aircraft types, adverse weather and terrain, wide number of aircraft operators and differing levels of regulatory oversight.”

Currently, multiple aviation safety standards exist based on the expectations of individual companies. This has the potential to introduce inefficiencies, varying degrees of acceptability and overall lower levels of flight safety assurance.

The variety of safety standards among aviation providers and resource companies has been a concern for the industry in recent years. Before the Bar Standard Program, there were no clear industry benchmarks for resource companies when assessing the safety of contracted aviation activity. This created multiple audit levels that were carried out with no sharing of information among companies.

“Working closely with the resource industry’s leading companies, we have been able to address the many challenges facing their aircraft operations on a local and global scale,” said Jensen, who noted that the ongoing management and global rollout of the standard is being led by the FSF regional office in Melbourne, Australia. “The Bar Standard Program will improve aviation safety for everyone involved in the industry–resource companies, aircraft operators, employees, their families and supporting communities.”

FSF president and CEO William Voss said the Bar Standard Program is a major step-change for the resources sector. “A major weakness of the old ‘company-specific’ standards was they tended to be prescriptive and reactive to incidents,” he said. “The Bar Standard Program, on the other hand, is based on leading aviation risk management principles–analyzing points of failure and preparing for them.”