Blog 2017

A Legacy that Includes the Pursuit of Excellence in Safety
By Dan Chicoyne, Senior Safety Advisor

March 10, 2017

On Sunday we remember those who lost their lives in the crash of Cougar 491 on March 12, 2009 and the crash of a Universal Helicopter on March 13, 1985. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and friends, and offer our continued best wishes to the lone survivor of Cougar 491.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) reconfirms our commitment to improving the safety of offshore travel, both by air and by sea, and we continue our work both locally and internationally, with global partners, in pursuit of this goal. Partnerships and open communications within the wider offshore helicopter transportation community contribute to the goal of Excellence in Operations which further supports the pursuit of Excellence in Safety.

Some key improvements in offshore helicopter safety include:

  • dedicated Search and Rescue response capability at Cougar Helicopters, with "wheels up" in 15-20 minutes;
  • a new simulator for Helicopter Underwater Egress Training, more closely resembling the Sikorsky S-92;
  • enhanced Basic Survival Training, including greater fidelity with respect to underwater escape from a helicopter;
  • improvements in helicopter transportation suits, with a requirement that every individual must have a properly fitted suit;
  • significant engineering improvements to the S-92 helicopter as well as changes to helicopter operating procedures;
  • additional Personal Protective Equipment, including underwater breathing apparatus attached to each person’s suit;
  • a kiosk at the heliport to facilitate passengers’ access to Airworthiness Directives and in-flight occurrences;
  • passengers are briefed by pilots on any incident that might occur during a flight;
  • semi-annual safety forums and safety conferences organized by the C-NLOPB; and
  • a Helicopter Operations Safety Committee (HOSC) comprised of operators, Cougar pilots, onshore and offshore workers and the C-NLOPB.

In 2016, helicopter flight crew training was enhanced with the installation and certification of a flight simulator located in St. John's. This world-class facility provides high fidelity training including high resolution representation of the actual offshore installations in our jurisdiction, including the new Hebron facility. Also, Cougar Helicopters opened its new purpose built heliport and hangar located adjacent to the existing Cougar Search and Rescue facility to accommodate passenger processing and maintenance of the Cougar helicopter fleet.

A strong safety culture is one that embraces continuous improvement. Ongoing research and a collaboration among all stakeholders are key factors in the continuous pursuit of reducing risks of offshore travel to as low as reasonably practicable for those who travel to and from offshore installations. Efforts continue in a number of areas, including helicopter side floatation and sea state measurement. A new and improved helicopter transportation suit has recently been certified for use and is the new standard for offshore personal protective equipment of this nature.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore is supported by a strong community approach dedicated to the advancement of safety for helicopter passenger transportation. The workforce is represented and engaged through individual offshore installation Operational Health and Safety Committees while the HOSC, with representation from across the community, meets regularly to discuss safety concerns and initiatives. Information and lessons learned is openly shared with the goal of improving safety for all.

While the risk of offshore travel can never be totally eliminated, part of the legacy of those who were lost in these tragedies includes great strides towards improved safety.

Blog 2017

Date Update
2017, MAR 10
2017, FEB 03