UK Offshore Helicopter Safety Action Group (OHSAG) October 2015 Minutes

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has just published the minutes of the 16 October 2015 meeting of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Action Group (OHSAG).  This is the third and last of the year (compared to six in 2014), postponed from July 2015.

The OHSAG was formed as a result of the ‘Civil Aviation Authority Safety Review of Offshore Public Transport Helicopter Operations in Support of the Exploitation of Oil and Gas’ (CAP1145).

Among the items of note:

  1. An action regarding oversight of foreign helicopters operators in the UK from the January 2015 meeting remains open and two further actions on cooperative oversight and the risk of consistent application of UK CAA Safety Directives were raised.
  2. Further refinement and verification of the bow tie on Normally Unattended Installation (NUI) firefighting protection is underway (a topic we discussed in July 2015) .  The proposed NUI policy is “centred on single engine failure accountability (i.e. in the case of a single engine failure on takeoff/approach, demonstrable clearances from deck edge and obstacles/water by 15 and 35 feet, respectively)”.
  3. The implementation date for new NUI firefighting protection policy will be 1 May 2016.  The Helideck Certification Agency (HCA) will be asked to reference the resulting NUI criteria (“PC1/PC2e and/or crash resistant/fire fighting system”) on NUI helideck plates.
  4. It was noted that CAP437 Appendix D, on legacy NUI helideck firefighting provision, would be withdrawn at the next revision of CAP437, but that the 2011 UK CAA letter, contained within it, will remain valid.
  5. It was reported that ICAO is to introduce the terms Permanently Attended Installation (PAI) and Not Permanently Attended Installation (NPAI) into the next revision of ICAO Annex 14 Volume II Heliports, which is anticipated to be published in 2016.
  6. The UK CAA proposed an activity to classify NUI helidecks based on the quality of the surrounding visual environment when on approach/takeoff at night.  However it was also suggested that many NUI owners/operators were generally “not inclined” to invest to comply with the new H and circle lighting requirements, which will effectively mean the end of night operations to those helidecks in 2018.
  7. The UK CAA consultation on helideck inspections (a topic we discussed in July 2015) was not debated.  The CAA had however issued the following statement on 5 October 2015: “The CAA received twenty responses from the consultation. These responses are being used to assist in the determination of the next steps to address CAP 1145 Action item A13”.
  8. In July 2014 the House of Commons Transport Committee recommended that: “The CAA must undertake a joint review with its Norwegian counterparts to uncover why more occurrences are reported in Norway, despite its smaller fleet, and publish its findings within 12 months.”  The resulting CAA report is still in draft.  It was said that: “All agreed that the report was informative, however it was noted that there continued to be a difference between the numbers of reports and that further work was required to identify where the differences were.”
  9. The provision of “high fidelity” EBS training remains an issue and two further actions were raised.
  10. In Any Other Business, it was agreed that communication from oil and gas customers “needs to improve”, with a suggestion that it is currently mainly “tactical”.  It was also agreed that clarification of the roles and responsibilities of various groups was required.  Neither resulted in a formal action.
  11. The next CAP1145 progress report is anticipated in April 2016.
  12. The next OHSAG meeting appears to have been put back to February 2016, to await progress on EBS training.

Aerossurance covered the April 2015 OHSAG minutes here.  There was no mention in the October minutes of adverse commercial practices, as raised by CHIRP, being discussed (see: CHIRP Critical of an Oil Company’s Commercial Practices).

UPDATE 1 August 2016: Although we understand that two meetings have been held in 2016 so far, no minutes have yet been publicly released.

UPDATE 24 September 2016: The UKCAA has issued CAP1386, their second update on CAP1145.  We have summarised that report.

CHC EC225 in front of the NATS ATC Tower at Aberdeen (Credit: Aerossurance)

CHC EC225 in front of the NATS ATC Tower at Aberdeen (Credit: Aerossurance)

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