News: Blogs

31 August 2016


Blogs: Effective Use of Automation

The global aviation industry is testament to what can be achieved when you combine humans and machines successfully.

In the past 20 years, advanced cockpit automation has allowed aviators to go further and do more. In the offshore helicopter industry, with automation we are able to serve the most remote oil and gas locations; often in extremely challenging weather conditions.

The Automated Rotorcraft: Short, Mid and Long Term Solutions” was the topic of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s conference on 6-7 July in London.

Accident data shows that enhancing the use of automation will reduce the rate of accidents, and so we have identified it as a high priority work area for HeliOffshore and our members.

In this second of three conferences, delegates examined the progress made – and potential future opportunities – to enhance our use of automation.

I encourage you to read the full proceedings. The Royal Aeronautical Society has produced an informative summary of the topics discussed at the conference, where you can also access some of the presentations.

You can also access all the conference material via the Royal Aeronautical Society conference portal. If you are asked to log-in, the username and password are both TAR2016.

The event was attended by a diverse and deeply experienced group representing helicopter operators, oil companies, regulators, manufacturers, and research institutes; with specialists from the worlds of training, computing, human factors, science and the military.

I heard absolute consensus that we should avoid “automation for automation’s sake” and that humans are not part of the problem; they are part of the solution.

There was agreement that we need to articulate our fundamental operational requirements and to get earlier and deeper input from crews into design so that we can ensure the partnership between human and machine is as effective as possible – and ever-improving based on operational feedback.

Our shared obligation is to give our crews the tools, training, and procedures they need to be able to use automation effectively. By combining new technology and big data with human factors and industrial design, we will make automation significantly more intuitive and achieve significant breakthroughs in safety.

With HeliOffshore’s Safety Strategy, we are collaborating across the industry to improve use of automation. This work comes under our Operational Effectiveness workstream. In October, we will launch HeliOffshore’s automation training videos. These clearly describe the guiding principles of automation use and will aid trainers as they support crews to use automation effectively.

Our shared goal is to make automation simple and intuitive, and that requires us to work together, to share best practice, and to recognise and listen to the users of these systems so that we can improve it now and into the future.