Bristow Helicopters Flies World's First Collision Avoidance Ops

Bristow Helicopters, Rockwell Collins and Shell have today achieved the world's first passenger flight of a helicopter fitted with the fixed wing airline standard of collision avoidance technology.

Bristow's Helicopters worked alongside US avionics manufacturer Rockwell Collins with the assistance of Shell Aircraft to install, test and certify the Traffic Collision Avoidance System, known as TCAS II, on a Super Puma AS332L helicopter.

TCAS II is more usually found on jet and turboprop aircraft. It is an onboard collision avoidance system which is a significant technical improvement over the equipment that is fitted to some other helicopters. TCAS ll provides clear collision avoidance instructions to the pilots of the helicopter when it detects nearby aircraft that could be a safety hazard.

The system, which is new for helicopters, works by interrogating the air traffic control transponders of other nearby aircraft to determine and display their relative altitudes and positions. The TCAS II computer then uses sophisticated techniques to calculate the speed, direction and potential collision hazard that these aircraft create for the helicopter pilot. It computes and displays a recommended avoidance manoeuvre for the pilot to ensure safe separation from the other aircraft.

TCAS ll has been introduced onto helicopters currently flying on routes from Aberdeen to oil installations in the North Sea. It brings the well proven benefits enjoyed by fixed wing aircraft to the helicopter sector, enhancing safety by significantly reducing the risk of airborne collision.

Mr John Cloggie, Director of European Operations for Bristow Helicopters, commented:

"It was commonly believed in aviation circles that the application of the fixed wing standard for collision avoidance systems would not be possible on helicopters because of their speed and flight profiles. Our team, together with Rockwell Collins and with the support of Shell, successfully met that challenge and have created a system which is a world first. We are committed to investment in systems such as this as part of our company's ongoing commitment to enhance the safety of the many thousands of passengers we transport offshore each year in support of the oil and gas industry."

Denny Helgeson, vice president and general manager, business and regional systems, for Rockwell Collins said: "This installation of TCAS II brings the well-proven safety benefits enjoyed by fixed wing aircraft to the rotary sector, further enhancing safety by significantly reducing the risk of airborne collision.

"We feel that the benefits this brings will be appreciated by helicopter operators worldwide and we look forward to our continued work with Bristow and Shell."