News: News

14 July 2017


News: How to Safely Manage Helicopter Approach Paths

Photo by kind permission of Stefano Massini

HeliOffshore today published new approach path management guidelines specifically developed to improve the safety of offshore helicopter operations. The document provides significant new insights into five key elements that can make a meaningful difference in ensuring safe stabilised approaches in the offshore environment. It also expands on well-established principles from the fixed-wing sector, and builds on excellent work on the subject by both the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP).

The five key elements that are the main focus of the best practice guidelines are as follows: energy state, approach briefing, go-around management, monitoring procedures, and the use of automation. The new document in intended to be used by operators in conjunction with HeliOffshore’s latest paper and videos on Automation Guidance.

The guidelines were researched and authored by HeliOffshore’s Operational Effectiveness, Approach Path Management workgroup consisting of highly experienced pilots from the association’s member operators. Initially, the workgroup was led by Roger Shugrue at HNZ whose team drafted the first version of the document before handing over to Steve O’Collard (CHC) and Mark Prior (a former Bristow test pilot), who oversaw completion of the final version. The Approach Path Management Guidelines are a live document that will be further updated, and the workgroup is already making progress on a new edition that will include full flight path management guidance.

“This document is one of a number of HeliOffshore initiatives which, in combination, provide a central knowledge for best practice and safe operation of the increasingly sophisticated cockpit technology that is available in our industry,” explained Tim Rolfe, co-leader of HeliOffshore’s Operational Effectiveness work stream and safety standards director with Bristow Group.  “Maintaining control of the helicopter throughout flight is an obvious desired intent – providing crews with repeatable operating practices designed to manage flightpath control effectively and maintain awareness of the helicopter’s state offers strong mitigation against any potential loss of control.”

“These guidelines are significant as they represent collaboration across the industry in establishing guidance material that will benefit all operators irrespective of size or fleet,” added HeliOffshore operations director Francois Lassale. “The guidance material forms part of the bigger picture and is a piece to the Operational Effectiveness puzzle when it comes to making more effective use of automation while enhancing safety and standardisation across the industry.