HeliOffshore 2022 Conference Review

After two years of virtual events, over 140 delegates from HeliOffshore’s international membership gathered in Cascais, outside of Lisbon, 23-24 April 2022 for the association’s annual conference.  Aerossurance, as a committed HeliOffshore member, has attended all six in-person HeliOffshore conferences.  HeliOffshore, founded in 2014, is the global collaborative safety association for the offshore helicopter industry.  This year’s theme was “a safe and sustainable transition to 2040”.

helioffshore conference 2022 rich picture

Offshore Helicopter Safety Performance

Among the good news was that the industry has seen a significant positive improvement in safety performance in recent years (the subject of HeliOffshore’s eagerly awaited fourth safety performance report due out shortly).  There have however been two fatal accidents in the offshore community in 2022 (one in the US and one in Brazil, with 3 fatalities in total).

Safety Learning

As part of a commitment to moving collaborative safety learning to a new level, two operators did a joint briefing on an lessons learning exercise they had done with HeliOffshore after one non-fatal accident and one serious incident in two different regions of the world that both involved approaches to helidecks at night.  Further enhancements are also underway to the HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme (HSIP), including a programme of proactive aggregated flight data analysis on the Sikorsky S-92A fleet.

Credit: Heliconia

Safety Culture and Human Performance

Sessions over both days discussed overlapping themes of sustainable safety culture and enabling human performance.  This included mention of some particularly interesting research into “the re-design of the Just Culture process in an international energy company“.  This excellent research, published in 2018, had already caught Aerossurance’s attention as a rare, peer reviewed, study that assessed how the implementation of Just Culture procedures were actually working in an organisation (looking at 353 cases).  Spoiler alert: the procedures based on the original logic of James Reason were being routinely misapplied and the research went on to discuss how this was corrected.  Such misapplication is something we commonly see in the aviation sector, with the process (often based on proprietary flowcharts) actually increases the focus on the capability (or not) of individuals rather than on driving system improvements.

Safety Leadership

An inspirational high point was a presentation by John Amaechi OBE, the psychologist, former former professional basketball player and author of The Promises of Giants (discussed in this VIDEO).  He described a concept of ‘step theory’, namely that in life, everything you do is either a step closer to your vision or a step away from it and the direction you take is your choice.  Amaechi advocates developing introspection, interpersonal and organisational abilities in order to enhance leadership skills and sharing ideas before you are ready (trusting your collaborators to contribute to refining the ideas).  As he has explained in interviews:

Leadership is not a title or role.  It’s a promise of a kind of experience. It says if I only have the power to influence these two people, I will wield that wisely and well.

After that presentation, HeliOffshore announced a new safety leadership bursary.  Aerossurance immediately committed to co-funding that excellent initiative, more details of which will be announced later this year.

Next Generation of People & Helicopters and the Rise of Renewables

A number of participants commented on the need to thinking about developing the next generation of professionals  in our community.  Others highlighted that the average age of the offshore fleet is increasing due to the minimal number of new aircraft purchased in recent years (especially in the heavy category).  One bright spot is the likely growth in support of renewable energy (a sector Aerossurance has been supporting since 2016). It was good to see G+ and the recently renamed OEUK contribute to a panel session.

In Conclusion

In his comments on the conference Tim Rolfe, HeliOffshore’s CEO, said:

As our industry evolves to incorporate new sectors, new technologies and new talent, it is essential we develop the tools and resources we need for the years ahead.

The conference was generously sponsored by Airbus, Bell, GE, Leonardo, OMNI Helicopters International, Pratt & Whitney and Safran.

helioffshore conference 2022

Safety Resources

The European Safety Promotion Network Rotorcraft (ESPN-R) has a helicopter safety discussion group on LinkedIn.

The Flight Safety Foundation (FSFBARSOHO offshore helicopter Safety Performance Requirements are detailed, well proven, contract standards for offshore crew change flights, SAR. medevac and helicopter hoist operations that aligns with the HeliOffshore Safety Performance Model.  The alignment stems from the original BARSOHO bow-tie model, developed for the FSF by Aerossurance, being discussed on the first morning of the first HeliOffshore conference on 9 May 2015, also in Portugal.

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Aerossurance has extensive air safety, offshore helicopter operations, helidecks, SAR, helicopter hoist operations, airworthiness, human factors, aviation regulation and safety analysis experience.  For practical aviation advice you can trust, contact us at: enquiries@aerossurance.com


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