Following a series of tragic offshore helicopter accidents we decided in late 2013 to undertake a full safety review of the area. That led to our groundbreaking report in February 2014 that called for some significant changes in how offshore helicopter flying takes place and made the safety of those working offshore our highest priority.

The report was warmly welcomed and, since then everyone involved in the area - from the oil and gas industry to helicopter operators and unions, have been working in close co-operation to drive forward the increases in safety. A one year review was published in 2015.

Much of this work has been coordinated through the CAA-led Offshore Helicopter Safety Action Group that pulls together all the key players and was itself formed as a recommendation from the review.

Much of the work is about preventing accidents from occurring in the first place but there has also been significant advances in helping passengers and crew survive an incident if it does occur. 

Some of the main safety improvements so far include:

  • Prohibiting helicopter flights in the most severe sea conditions to improve the chances of rescue and survivability
  • Providing passengers with better emergency breathing equipment
  • Offshore workers have received improved safety training
  • Making sure that people only sit next to exits that they can escape from
  • Changes to the way pilots are trained · Improving helicopter design
  • Increased oversight of helideck safety

We have been working in close partnership with Step Change in Safety - to deliver many of the changes and communicate with the offshore workforce.

Much of the remaining work is longer-term projects such as changes to the design of future helicopters that will be moved forward via the European Aviation Safety Agency. You can see more of our work in this area at


Lee Ramsden 4 years ago / Reply

There is mention of oversight of helideck safety, but i fail to find what the oversight was. Also, is there a paper regarding the criteria for helideck wave off lights, and is there a date the CAA will deem that all offshore uk installations will require these. Many thanks.

Dave Howson (CAA) 3 years ago

The increased oversight of helidecks is to be realised by CAA assuming responsibility for their certification as stated in Action A13 of the Offshore Review, CAP 1145. This requires legislative changes which will take time to progress. In the meantime, the CAA proposes to work towards the final desired solution in collaboration with the Helideck Certification Agency which will include increased involvement of CAA inspection staff. In terms of the wave-off lights described in para. 3.6 of Chapter 4 of the CAA’s standards for offshore helidecks, CAP 437, the background information is contained in CAA Paper 2008/01. There are no current plans to extend the mandate of wave-off lights to manned installations, but the situation is under review.

Chris Ford 4 years ago / Reply

Can you tell me the max wave height North Sea that a EC175 can operateThank You.

Anastasia CAA 4 years ago

The EC 175 is certificated for Sea State 6 which corresponds to a maximum significant wave height of 6 metres.

James Iseton 4 years ago / Reply

I currently work offshore in the North Sea and we have changed to the new EBS breathing system. To learn how to use this piece of equipment we received an hour of training in a class room with a hands on demonstration followed by a dry practice. Recently I have completed my offshore survival training refresher and we used the old rebreather system. I asked the instructors why we were not using the new EBS system and he said that it hadn't been certified for offshore use yet.My question is why if it has not been certified for use are we using it on every crew change flight we do and have been doing for the last year ?Your sincerelyJames Iseton.

Anastasia CAA 4 years ago

The new EBS has been certificated for offshore use, the issue with moving to inwater or wet training with the new EBS relates to the application of the HSEs Diving at Work Regulations (DWR) to the training environment. This is presently being jointly addressed by all stakeholders.

Stuart 4 years ago / Reply

Much of the above is true, however, the 'improved safety training' with the better emergency breathing equipment (CAEBS) is still only conducted in a dry environment. BOSIET and FOET training is still done with the old type EBS, almost 18 months after the introduction of the new system in the CNS. How can this be deemed as improved safety training?

Anastasia CAA 4 years ago

The new EBS is based on the military PSTASS (Passenger Short Term Air Supply System) equipment which was designed to be used with no training at all. The requirement for dry training was considered to be conservative, and also allowed the equipment to be introduced sooner. The industry is working towards wet training with the new EBS.

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