Helicopter Ditching – EASA Rule Making Task RMT.0120 Update (NPA 2016-01)

Helicopter Ditching – EASA Rule Making Task RMT.0120 Update (NPA 2016-01 Helicopter ditching and water impact occupant survivability)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave an update at their 8th Rotorcraft Symposium on the rule making task (RMT.0120) looking at helicopter ditching requirements.  The paper is downloadable as part of a large zip file for the whole symposium or directly here.

The RMT was one initiative launched by EASA after the 2009 Newfoundland S-92 accident and predates the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Safety review of offshore public transport helicopter operations in support of the exploitation of oil and gas, which resulted in the CAP1145 report and its 61 actions and recommendations (discussed here).

The team is taking a holistic approach looking at:

  1. New rules on ‘survivable water impacts’
  2. Modifying existing Ditching rules
  3. Enhancing existing cabin safety rules
  4. Enhancing rules for life raft installation
  5. New rules/guidance on ELT installation
  6. Survival Equipment (including immersions suits, lifejackets and EBS)
  7. Passenger Size & Weight Study
  8. Operational Issues such as training & brace position


We have also since published these articles:

NPA 2016-01 Helicopter ditching and water impact occupant survivability

UPDATE 23 March 2016: EASA published NPA 2016-01 Helicopter ditching and water impact occupant survivability on a 3 month public consultation period.

Previous studies on and accident investigations into helicopter ditchings and water impact events have highlighted inadequacies in the existing certification specifications (CS-27, CS-29) and in the rules governing offshore operations. In particular, it has been established that in an otherwise survivable water impact, most fatalities occurred as a result of drowning because the occupants were unable either to rapidly escape from a capsized and flooded cabin, or to survive in the sea for sufficient time until rescue. Furthermore, the testing environment in which helicopters are type-certified for ditching bears little resemblance to the sea conditions experienced in operation.

In order to thoroughly address these and other ditching-related issues, and due to the nature of ditching-related hazards, this rulemaking task (RMT.0120 (27&29.008)) has taken a holistic approach to the problem, which crosses traditional airworthiness/operational boundaries. A detailed risk assessment has been undertaken that reflects both certification and operational experience and builds upon data extracted from accident reports and previous studies.

The specific objective of this NPA, however, is to propose changes to CS-27 and CS-29… Retroactive rules are to be considered in a second phase of this RMT.

…the primary change proposed aims to establish a new ditching certification methodology by which a target probability of capsize following a ditching can be determined based on the level of capsize mitigation applied to the design.

UPDATE 20 September 2016: The UK CAA today briefed the Oil and Gas UK Aviation Seminar that 300 comments were received, which were assessed at a three day EASA review session in July 2016.

UPDATE 20 January 2017: EASA release the revised group composition for the NPA review.

An update of BARSOHO (Version 3), fully aligned with the HeliOffshore SPM, is now available.

barsoho v3

Aerossurance is pleased to be supporting both HeliOffshore and the Flight Safety Foundation in their work to improve offshore helicopter safety.

UPDATE 6 March 2017: HSS3b is issued (initially in Norwegian, with an English Exec Summary).  It features comment on survivability matters.


Aerossurance is an Aberdeen based aviation consultancy.  For practical, expert advice you can trust on helicopter design & safety, regulation and survivability, contact Aerossurance at: enquiries@aerossurance.com