The UK CAA unveiled a series of stringent measures today as a result of a review it launched last September to improve the safety of helicopter operations in the North Sea. These changes are expected to improve survivability after a ditching.
Effective June 1, operators will be allowed to carry passengers only in those seats that are next to emergency exit windows. Other seats can be used if “helicopters are fitted with extra flotation devices or passengers are provided with better emergency breathing systems,” the CAA said.
Moreover, flights in the most severe sea conditions (above sea state 6) will be prohibited from June 1, so capsizing is less likely. The CAA is expecting helicopter operators to make improvements to helicopters and survival equipment, including fitting automatic flotation equipment, adding hand holds next to push-out windows and improving life rafts and lifejackets.
Meanwhile, the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization is expected to improve survival training for offshore workers. The CAA has also announced “important changes to the way pilots are trained.”