Update on CAA changes to offshore helicopter regulation

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced a series of measures aimed at increasing the safety of offshore helicopter flights. These changes are the result of a review undertaken in conjunction with the Norwegian CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) following a number of fatal accidents in the North Sea. Significant measures announced importantly include increased restrictions on flying in certain weather conditions, changes to seating configurations and increased safety equipment on board, as well as proposed changes to helipads.

Initial implementation is imminent, scheduled from June 2014 through to 2016, with the urgency of these deadlines raising considerable concerns. These concerns relate both to issues of practicality, on account of the complexity of the changes required, and the possibly of unintended safety risks being introduced given the relatively short deadlines for some of the CAA measures. There are implications for all companies with offshore operations as a result of this review, with the changes applicable to all aircraft over the UK continental shelf irrespective of registration as well as to all G-registered aircraft operating worldwide. Scheduling changes, limitations on number of passengers, restrictions on personnel permitted to fly and changes in training are likely to result in an increased number of transfer flights and a decrease in flight flexibility. A time and cost burden on all offshore operations is therefore inevitable…

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