In September 2013 we initiated a review to examine the risks and hazards of offshore helicopter operations in the UK, which was conducted in conjunction with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority. A report of the review was published in February 2014 entitled CAP1145: Safety review of offshore public transport helicopter operations in support of oil and the exploitation of oil and gas. Two progress reports to this review and a final report have been published:
- CAP1243 Safety review of offshore public transport helicopter operations in support of the exploitation of oil and gas - Progress report (January 2015)
- CAP1386 Safety review of offshore public transport helicopter operations in support of the exploitation of oil and gas - Progress report (September 2016)
The review put forward 32 actions and 29 recommendations to helicopter operators, the oil and gas industry, manufacturers and EASA which will improve offshore helicopter safety around the following four main areas:
- Passenger safety and survivability
- Improving knowledge and facilitating change
An action from the review was to set up a CAA-led safety governance body for offshore operations, with representation from key organisations from across the industry, named the Offshore Helicopter Safety Action Group (OHSAG).
The primary purpose of the OHSAG is to:
- Facilitate delivery of the CAA Offshore Helicopter Safety Review actions
- To monitor the progress of recommendations made to others
- Facilitate dialogue between helicopter operators, employee representatives, manufacturers and regulators
- To coordinate and lead the communications of the review to stakeholders and media
- To assess the ongoing effectiveness of implemented safety initiatives to ensure tangible measurable safety benefits are delivered
There is a strong collective commitment to deliver positive safety changes by all parties represented in the OHSAG.
Membership of OHSAG
- Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
- Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
- Bristow Helicopters Ltd
- CHC Scotia Ltd
- Oil and Gas UK
- Step Change in Safety
Achievements of the OHSAG to date
The majority of the actions and recommendations outlined in the Review to improve safety focus on preventing accidents but some also focus on improving survivability following an incident. Safety improvements overseen by the group 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
Latest progress against delivery of the Review can be found in CAP 1243.
Offshore workforce communications – lead by Step Change in Safety
Visit Step Change in Safety for workforce communications including a helpful dos and don’ts document around clothing policy and a downloadable FAQ sheet on passenger size. Online editions of the ‘Tea Shack News’ publication are also available to view online from the Step Change in Safety website.
Passenger shape and size
OHSAG is very conscious of workforce concerns over plans to prevent helicopter operators carrying passengers whose body size means they couldn’t escape through push-out window exits in an emergency.
The change is to ensure that everyone on board can escape in the event of a helicopter capsizing after a ditching or water impact.
The Group’s aim is that no one loses their job as a result of the change. While the classifications may present some logistical challenges, we believe the implications for those who travel offshore are manageable within the current helicopter fleet.
Following a study of helicopter exits and of the offshore workforce a shoulder width measurement of 22” or over will be classified as ‘extra broad’ (XBR). Every offshore worker will be measured. Step Change has released details of how this measurement will take place. Workers whose shoulder width exceeds 22” will be classified as extra broad on the Vantage seat booking system. Those passengers will be allocated a seat which has direct access to the larger Type III and Type IV window exits. At least 30% of seats on all helicopters fall into this category which we believe is more than the number of passengers that will be classified as extra broad.
Information on Step Change’s Passenger Size workgroup is available at the Step Change in Safety website.
Other related bodies
- Helicopter Management Liaison Committee (HMLC)
- Helicopter Safety Research Management Committee (HSRMC)
- Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG)
- Aviation Safety Technical Group (ASTG)
- Oil Industry Advisory Committee, Helideck Liaison Group (OIAC-HLG)
- Joint Operators Review (JOR)
CAA referenced documents
- CAP1145: Safety review of offshore public transport helicopter operations in support of oil and the exploitation of oil and gas
- CAP1243 - Offshore Helicopter Review Progress Report
- A message from the Chair of the CAA welcoming the report
- A letter from the review challenge team
- A letter from the European Aviation Safety Agency
- A letter from the Norwegian CAA
OHSAG terms of reference
Other related reports
Since CAP1145: Safety review of offshore public transport helicopter operations in support of oil and the exploitation of oil and gas was published in February 2014, several further reports have followed, including:
- The Transport Select Committee’s Offshore helicopter safety report (July 2014)
- The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) Report No: 2/2014. Report on the accidents to Eurocopter EC225 LP Super Puma G-REDW, 34 nm east of Aberdeen, Scotland on 10 May 2012 and G-CHCN, 32 nm southwest of Sumburgh, Shetland Islands on 22 October 2012
Provide page feedback
Please enter your comments below, or use our usual service contacts if a specific matter requires an answer.
Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.