Raising commonality in the way different companies operate the same helicopter type will be among the subjects of the safety review launched by North Sea operators Bristow, Avincis and CHC.
The same complex aircraft are being operated in markedly different manners in the region, pointed out Tim Glasspool, head of flight operations for Bristow in Europe. One reason for the disparity, he suggested, is a lack of detail in the flight manuals the manufacturers (chiefly Eurocopter, Sikorsky and AgustaWestland, AIN understands) provide. “These rotorcraft lack the kind of manual that comes with a Boeing 737,” he said. He explicitly asked the manufacturers to provide such documents.
Glasspool believes operators should fly the helicopters in a similar manner. He pointed out that while operators generally share the same philosophy, they implement it differently in practice. For example, “we have no guidance for non-precision approaches; therefore…major differences can be found as to what systems are coupled during the approach,” he explained. Yet the tools to detect unstabilized approaches are the same.
The situation is all the more paradoxical as customers–namely, big oil companies–closely track the safety events that affect the various helicopter types. Therefore, an issue with a tail rotor on a given aircraft type in Western Africa will trigger a question to all North Sea operators about their fleet of the type.
The safety review was launched in September and is expected to last at least two years. It will encompass “safety-related processes, procedures, training and equipment” and will identify “best practices on the ground and in the air.” Participants include experts in safety, training, flight operations and maintenance.