In the last thirty years or so, a number of offshore workers have lost their lives in helicopter crashes. The need for better offshore helicopter safety is paramount for UK organisations, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which have worked to improve regulations and protect the 18,000 UK oil rig workers during their risky commute. What are the worst offshore helicopter crashes and how have industry authorities attempted to improve matters?
In the last thirty years or so, a number of workers have lost their lives in offshore helicopter crashes. The need for better helicopter safety is paramount for UK organisations, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which have worked to improve regulations and protect the 18,000 UK oil rig workers during their risky commute.
Frameworks to prevent offshore helicopter crashes
Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat and MP for Orkney and Shetland, has thrown his support behind Parliamentary Motion 553 aiming for urgent improvement in the safety of North Sea transport helicopters.
“The same few mechanical failures have been the cause of crashes time and time again, and lifting the restrictions on Super Puma L225s without working with unions and restoring confidence is a mistake,” he said on his constituency website.
“It is vital that the CAA improve helicopter transport safety arrangements in order to halt the worrying trend in crashes, and restore faith in not only the helicopters, but the robustness of the regulations. Offshore workers need to know that their safety is in the mind of the regulator.”
So, how is the CAA driving offshore safety? After publishing its comprehensive review of offshore helicopter operations, in collaboration with its Norwegian counterpart and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the CAA announced updated measures.
First and foremost, it prohibits helicopters to fly during the most severe sea conditions in order to speed up rescue operations and reduce the risk of a ditched vessel capsizing. It also requires all passengers to sit next to an emergency exit on board and all helicopters to be equipped with better breathing apparatus to increase a passenger’s underwater survival time.
The CAA also said it would engage with trade unions, industry leaders, helicopter manufacturers and operators, the government and independent experts to build future projects enhancing safety and mitigating future offshore helicopter crashes.