Since October 28, the EASA has been strictly enforcing a rule that prohibits single-engine helicopter flights above densely populated and other “hostile” areas, thus igniting a controversy in the European helicopter operator industry. Most vocal has been French lobbying association UFH, which was hoping that existing exemptions would be maintained.
Instead, the UFH said the bulk of the operations at Paris heliport are now seriously threatened. UFH president Dominique Orbec also pointed out that some recent high-profile helicopter accidents in urban areas involved a twin-engine helicopter, including the November 2013 crash of an EC135T2i in Glasgow.
Meanwhile, Swiss authorities rejected the EASA rule. “We have kept local rules for mountain rescue, thus allowing singles,” a spokeswoman for Swiss civil aviation agency OFAC told AIN. The EASA insists the industry had years to prepare and a transition period is ongoing for non-commercial operations, circular flights and aerial work. “Nobody can guarantee single-engine helicopters offer an acceptable level of safety for passengers and inhabitants of densely populated areas,” an EASA spokesman maintained.