News: Press Releases

3 October 2018

Press Releases

Press Releases: The Offshore Helicopter Industry’s Safety Intelligence Programme is Driving Life-Saving Action

The new HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme (HSIP) is giving the offshore helicopter industry a clear picture of its safety performance, delivering a growing volume of frontline data that supports all aspects of HeliOffshore’s collaborative work to avoid accidents. Data is already being submitted by operators accounting for more than 80% of aircraft in the combined fleet of the global offshore helicopter safety association.

The programme is a prime example of how HeliOffshore is using data to clearly identify key areas for safety improvement. Working in collaboration with an alliance of aircraft operators, manufacturers, system providers, oil companies, regulators and leasing companies strengthens our ability to deliver the right performance enhancements by pooling resources and funding.

“Safety intelligence is about collecting and analysing data for actionable results to give safety benefits by identifying and tackling the root causes of safety issues,” commented HSIP Project Manager Dr Matthew Greaves. “We are not doing this just to capture what’s happening in the industry, but to improve safety in the industry; this is about frontline operations and real results.”

By gathering growing volumes of key frontline data, HeliOffshore is giving the industry early warning of the leading indicators of potential safety issues. We are also collecting underlying usage data, such as flight hours, which will give the industry a clear understanding of accident and incident rates. 

The initial focus of HSIP is to get a comprehensive picture from the global fleet in key aspects of operations, such as approach path management, the reliability and resilience of equipment and maintenance processes. For instance, early analysis of return to base (RTB) data has highlighted an opportunity to reduce exposure to risk by addressing the common causes of these events. It will also allow us to more accurately assess the effectiveness of safety products, such as Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems and Flight Crew Operating Manuals, as they are implemented by the offshore helicopter operators.

The RTB data project is part of the work HeliOffshore’s System Reliability & Resilience Workstream is doing to gather and analyse data from HSIP on maintenance errors in order to identify the most common reliability issues. For operators and their oil company customers, this approach has the added benefits of potentially reducing costs and boosting confidence in the safety of operations among passengers.

HSIP also is collecting Helicopter Flight Data Monitoring data that is supporting HeliOffshore’s Flight Path Management Work Group in preparing the latest revisions to its Approach Path Management Guidance Materials, which are due to be published in 2019. Initial analysis has allowed HeliOffshore member operators to see variations in parameters such as ground speed in the approach phase of flight to offshore rigs.

Work to prepare for Phase 3 of HSIP will begin in early 2019. Its implementation in early 2020 will result in a significant expansion of the data sets collected to possibly include full flight data, as well as data from Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS). “This will allow us to start fusing multiple sources of data together to give a full understanding of what it tells us,” explained HeliOffshore Operations Director François Lassale. “This approach will facilitate predictive modelling that will make us fully aware of the weak signals that provide early warning of potential accidents, giving us the time and information we need to remedy these.” HeliOffshore also intends to consider the introduction of some new data analysis techniques such as Machine Learning, which the UK’s Cranfield University has been applying to flight data.

Data is protected by HSIP’s governance process, which ensures that the data is always fully anonymised. The governance process, which is subject to a memorandum of understanding signed by participating operators, is overseen by HeliOffshore’s Safety Steering Group under the authority of the HeliOffshore Board of Directors. To develop and implement HSIP, HeliOffshore has partnered with Tonic Analytics, NLR and GE Digital.

Read more about the HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme in the latest blog by Dr Greaves.

Safer Maintenance Through Human Hazard Analysis

Meanwhile, HeliOffshore’s System Reliability & Resilience Workstream is stepping up efforts to support frontline aircraft maintainers in their safety critical roles. Working with human factors experts Dr Simon Gill and Dr Hazel Courteney, along with Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo, the association is holding a series of workshops in October and November that bring together maintenance personnel and aircraft designers from manufacturers. These use the Human Hazard Analysis (HHA) process to assess maintenance tasks for specific aircraft types with a view to identifying potential improvements. 

In a trial workshop to develop the HHA process the HeliOffshore members involved identified very specific improvements in maintenance procedures and training, as well as changes to the aircraft design. The next planned workshops in October and November will focus on the Airbus H175 and the Leonardo AW139 aircraft.

“This is a very fresh and practical approach that I am confident will strike the right chord with frontline maintenance engineers, who will see the practical benefits and tangible applications from the output of these HHA workshops,” said System Reliability & Resilience Project Manager Scott Carmichael. “Its success depends on the lessons learned from their real-life experiences. It’s very exciting.” 

Standardisation Supports Safety

As informed customers, oil and gas companies are key stakeholders in HeliOffshore’s collaborative efforts to enhance safety in offshore helicopter operations. They are closely involved in work to achieve best practice in key safety areas and also supportive of efforts to develop and implement new technology and procedures. 

The Aviation Subcommittee of the Safety Committee of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) recently committed to reviewing the recommended practices for offshore flights in a bid to avoid individual operators having to operate multiple standards. This approach will mitigate the dangers of possible errors and inefficiencies occurring by conducting operations differently for each customer.

“HeliOffshore’s work so far in 2018 has demonstrated the power of collaboration between our member companies and key stakeholders to develop and implement those safety programmes that we have identified as having the most potential to save lives,” said HeliOffshore CEO Gretchen Haskins. “We’re getting the whole industry aligned behind the same safety strategy by treating safety as a total system in which a combination of humans and machine deliver the outcomes needed to ensure that thousands of people working offshore around the world get to and from work safely.”

In the four years since it was founded by leading helicopter operators, HeliOffshore has helped to develop a wide array safety programmes, including Flight Crew Operating Manuals, and guidelines for Approach Path Management and best practice for Health and Usage Monitoring Systems. The association’s collaborative approach is fostering the development of a performance improvement culture across the industry. To drive tangible safety action, we are striving to firmly establish the following key approaches:      

  • • Safety improvement plans for each company—spelling out key priorities and what actions are to be taken against a clear timeline.
  • • An established process for regular safety discussions with frontline employees.
  • • Visibility with all partners and customers for safety efforts so that the interdependent nature of this work supports the momentum needed to get the right results quickly.
  • • Extensive use of data to inform the focus of safety efforts and to test their effectiveness.
  • • Industry-wide consensus over priorities, actions and results.

HeliOffshore now clearly see the benefits of working together to go beyond minimum standards to achieve excellent safety performance where it counts most to get offshore workers home safely every day.

About HeliOffshore

HeliOffshore was founded in 2014 by leading offshore helicopter operators. Today, the global safety association for the offshore helicopter industry has more than 110 members, including aircraft and system manufacturers, helicopter operators, and leasing companies. Working with experts from member companies, the group shares best practice, provides a forum for collaborative exchange of information and facilitates training. The core areas of its safety focus are on system reliability and resilience, operational effectiveness, enabling safety and survivability.  

For more information contact:

Charles Alcock

HeliOffshore Communications Director

Mobile: +44 7799 907595