HeliOffshore Conference 2017 Report: Deepening  Delivery

The offshore helicopter safety association, HeliOffshore held its third conference and AGM in Budapest 13-14 May 2017.  The focus was on ‘Deepening Our Delivery’ of improved offshore helicopter safety.

HeliOffshore Conference Brochure (Credit: HeliOffshore)

The conference was attended by 180 industry leaders from operators, helicopter manufacturers, oil and gas companies, regulators, suppliers and service providers (including, for the third year, Aerossurance).


The conference opened with perspectives on progress to date:


HeliOffshore, founded by the 5 largest players in offshore helicopter operations (Babcock, Bristow, CHC, ERA and PHI) in 2014, has grown to almost 100 members. helioffshore members may 2017 The organisation is implementing a Safety Strategy orientated around the Safety Performance Model endorsed last year.

HeliOffshore Safety Performance Model (Credit: HeliOffshore)

HeliOffshore Safety Performance Model (Credit: HeliOffshore)

The Safety Performance Model was inspired by the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) Basic Aviation Risk Standard for Offshore Helicopter Operations (BARS OHO) bow-tie presented at the 2015 conference.  The prioritisation has been influenced by the EASA Safety Risk Portfolio for Offshore Helicopters.

This year’s format saw shorter presentations and more collaborative workshop sessions.

Active Discussion in Workshop Sessions at HeliOffshore's 2017 Conference (Credit: HeliOffshore)

Active Discussion in Workshop Sessions at HeliOffshore’s 2017 Conference (Credit: HeliOffshore)

Focus on Value

In the opening discussion Steve Hawkes of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) Aviation Sub Committee revealed that a letter of support for the implementation of the enhanced offshore Helicopter Terrain and Awareness Warning Systems (HTAWS), a major initiative discussed at last year’s conference, was awaiting IOGP Management Committee approval.  He went on to state:

The entire landscape of our industry must be redesigned towards a new way of doing business, assuring the full potential of safety and operational effectiveness to survive.  Safety and Profitability will go hand-in-hand in a strategic well-planned future environment.

Andrea Cicero of Babcock Mission Critical Services discussed the potential financial implications of catastrophic accidents.  He again discussed HTAWS and how a relatively small investment of c£150k on research had lead to major improvements in warning time that would have been available in past accidents. HTAWS Improvements Demonstrated by Research (Credit: HeliOffshore)

HeliOffshore has contracted Mark Prior as Project Manager for this important work to address the weaknesses in HTAWS. Dan Rosenthal of the Milestone Aviation Group discussed the efficiency and financial benefits of collaboration across the system in the context of a challenging oil and gas environment. While a modest increase in exploration and production capital expenditure is expected in 2017, this is driven by onshore shale and all analysts expect a further fall in offshore CAPEX this year. helioffshore 2017 industry growth

Rosenthal also noted that his company alone owned $4.5 billion of helicopters.

Tim Rolfe of Bristow discussed progress on the helicopter Evidence Based Training (EBT) element of the Operational Effectiveness Workstream, the subject of the first workshop discussion.  Helicopter EBT is a significant shift in training philosophy and is now the subject of an EASA rule-making initiative.  There was a pledge to share data to support EBT across a large number of operators.

David Balevic of CHC introduced the HeliOffshore System Reliability and Resilience Workstream activity (subject of the second table discussion).  Work has been under way to identify ‘action priorities’ by fleet for collaborative work by OEMs and operators.

The presentations from this session are available online: Part 1 and Part 2

Human Performance

Day 1 continued with a facilitated session on human performance discussing how applying resilience engineering methods can enhance human performance.

Safety Intelligence

Bristow’s Steve Predmore desribed how the ‘InfoShare’ project has been renamed ‘Safety Intelligence’ to better represent its objective.  The project has 3 phases:

  1. Rapid alerting of events across the industry
  2. Causal and Contextual Information
  3. Operational Data (“Big Data”)

GE is partnering with HeliOffshore on an industry-wide safety data management system (SDMS).  An announcement of a supplier for safety database and analytical technology is expected shortly. helioffshore 2017 safety intelligence

Simon Stewart of Babcock MCS discussed the value a more predictive approach, moving from lagging indicators to a leading indicator capability.

Robbert Strating of Hevilift discussed the importance of prompt investigation and how there was a need to support smaller operators and those who operate in countries and regions with fewer resources for investigation.

Dave Stepanek of PHI explained an initiative to allow real-time satellite transmission of aircraft parameters.

This session culminated in a table discussion on a safety data case study. The presentations from this session are available online.

Shark Tank

The ‘Shark Tank’ (aka ‘Dragons Den’) session, first introduced in 2016, returned, ably hosted by Duncan Trapp of CHC.  This year’s focus was on System Resilience and Reliability with the Sharks considered innovations from Pratt and Whitney Canada, Spectro Scientific, (both on enhanced oil debris monitoring), Airbus (on monitoring parts in transit), Leonardo Helicopters (on pooling reliability data), SkyTrac (on data communication), and State Safety Global (on facilitating collaborative working between designers and maintainers).

Delegates held a non-binding vote and joint winners were:

Airbus for their Safelog innovation to improve packaging and monitor the transportation of parts between the OEM and Part 145; and

Spectro Scientific for their Q5800 Expeditionary Fluid Analysis System (EFAS), a 33 lb., battery-operated, lubrication analysis lab-in-a-man-portable-case, providing comprehensive results in 10 minutes, on a flight line or in a maintenance shop.


Hank Williams of Cougar facilitated a session to condense the discussions into a set of actions and commitments. https://youtu.be/oqGTSNSZH80?t=10

Safety Suggestions and Commitments Accumulate from the Workshop Sessions (Credit: HeliOffshore)

Safety Suggestions and Commitments Accumulate from the Workshop Sessions (Credit: HeliOffshore)

Annual General Meeting

The AGM considered the HeliOffshore accounts, budget, and forward plan.

The Board and members welcomed Mr. Lance Bospflug as the most recently appointed member of HeliOffshore’s Board. The Board also recognised the immense contribution to the industry by Mr. Al Gonsoulin, who has resigned his position on the Board.

HeliOffshore 2017 AGM - Chairman Bill Chiles, CEO Gretchen Haskins and Board Members (or their representatives) (Credit: HeliOffshore)

HeliOffshore 2017 AGM – Chairman Bill Chiles, CEO Gretchen Haskins and Board Members (or their representatives) (Credit: HeliOffshore)

HeliOffshore CEO Gretchen Haskins has shared her perspectives on the event.

Budapest (Credit: Aerossurance)

Budapest (Credit: Aerossurance)

Our Last Word

HeliOffshore has continued building an global safety alliance and this conference certainly achieved its aim of increasing the dialogue between stakeholders around aligned goals. HeliOffshore Last year we wondered if more oil companies have joined the alliance for 2017.  This year 5 IOGP members attended the conference (down from 7 last year). BHP Billiton, BP and Shell have been joined by INPEX as actual members. HeliOffshore has however started to expand beyond just oil and gas operations with the welcome addition of wind energy companies for example. See also our reports on the previous HeliOffshore conferences:

UPDATE 13 May 2018: Delivering Our Priorities: HeliOffshore 2018 Conference Report

UPDATE 8 May 2022: HeliOffshore 2022 Conference Review

Aerossurance are pleased to be active members of HeliOffshore.  Aerossurance has extensive offshore helicopter design, airworthiness, operational, safety and regulatory experience.  For practical aviation advice you can trust, contact us at: enquiries@aerossurance.com