CAA Helicopter Safety Timeline Criticized

Trade body Oil & Gas UK said Wednesday that it believes that a timeline for recommendations proposed in the Civil Aviation Authority's helicopter safety review, published in February, "does not take into account the full risk picture for offshore workers".

February 20 saw the CAA propose measures that included: prohibiting helicopter flights in the most severe sea conditions; passengers only being allowed to fly if they are seat next to an emergency window exit; and the requirement for all passengers to have better emergency breathing equipment.

However, on Thursday Oil & Gas UK Health and Safety Director Robert Paterson said in a statement:

"We believe that the CAA's proposed timescale does not take into account the full risk picture for offshore workers. For example, Oil & Gas UK is concerned that limiting helicopter seating capacity from June could lead to this summer's planned safety critical maintenance programs for many installations being postponed until 2015. We are working with our members and the offshore workforce as matter of urgency to quantify the wider safety impact of the CAA review and will share these findings publicly and with the relevant authorities."

Responding to Oil & Gas UK Thursday, a CAA spokesman told Rigzone that the organization involved the whole offshore industry when conducting its helicopter safety review and that it does not believe that the timeline is rushed. The spokesman also pointed out that the CAA has asked for evidence that the proposals in the review would have an adverse impact on safety and that it is has not yet had a response.

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


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Ben | Apr. 10, 2014
Limiting helicopter flights to sea conditions amenable for search and rescue and better emergency (underwater) breathing equipment are good proposals. However, limiting seating to window seats will effectively increase the number of flights and the risk of helicopter crash significantly. This is therefore questionable. CAA, unfortunately, have not recommended: installing hydrostatic releases on seat-belts (too many instances of drowning), improved/guaranteed flotation on helicopters (prevent sinking), and redesign of life rafts to enable easier boarding in rough seas.

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