EASA is proposing equipment changes for Part 27 and 29 helicopters that are operated for extended periods over water. The changes are designed to help improve survivability during helicopter ditching or survivable water impact.
Proposed modifications for such aircraft include: black/yellow markings for emergency controls used underwater for all helicopters; remote life raft deployment (cockpit, cabin, from water) for large Part 29 helicopters only (ditching approval only); substantiated sea conditions for capsize resistance in the rotorcraft flight manual; easy opening emergency exits, emergency illumination of underwater ditching exits, and one pair of exits for every four passengers; improved life raft attach lines and easy reach life preservers; and automatic deployment of emergency flotation systems.
EASA said the new requirements could take effect by 2023 and “will improve the safety of offshore helicopter operations and provide a pragmatic balance of the associated minimal economic impact, and with no environmental or social impact. “
“Previous studies and accident investigations into helicopter ditching and water-impact events had highlighted the need to enhance the certification specifications for helicopters (CS-27, CS-29) to improve the level of safety of future helicopter designs,” EASA noted. “As part of RMT.0120, changes were introduced to CS-27 and CS-29 at Amendment 5 to improve the probability of survival for occupants in the event of either a helicopter ditching or a survivable water impact.”