Bigger Exits, Side Floatation and Onboard Cameras Among key recommendations in AAIB report.

In total 26 new recommendations to changes in offshore helicopter travel has been made by the AAIB, in their report into the 2013 fatal helicopter crash off Sumburgh.

Many reflect changes to pilots training, systems monitoring and operating procedures. However there are also some key recommendations for changes to the helicopter design and use.

We have summarised some of the key recommendations below. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page.

Emergency Exits

The AAIB have recommended that there should be minimum size limitations for all removable exits.

This recommendation is to allow for the successful egress of a 95th percentile-sized offshore worker wearing the maximum recommended level of survival clothing and equipment.

This follows on from recommendations made in the CAP1145 report into offshore helicopter safety which prompted passengers with a shoulder width above 22” to be classed as extra broad and seated next to an appropriately sized window.

The recommendations in this new report go on to say a common standard for emergency exit opening mechanisms should also be developed.  All exits should be removed readily using one hand and in a continuous movement.

The AAIB go on to recommended that only two passengers should be using any one exit in the event of an emergency, and approved seating layouts should reflect this.

Floatation

Offshore large rotorcraft should have specifications changed to require the provision of a side floating capability.

It is recommended that the EASA amends the Certification Specifications for Large Rotorcraft, certified for offshore operation, to require the provision of a side-floating capability for a helicopter in the event of impact with water or capsize after ditching. This should also be applied retrospectively to helicopters currently used in offshore operations

Liferafts

It is recommended the design requirements for helicopters are amended to ensure that where liferafts are required to be fitted, they can be deployed readily from a fuselage floating in any attitude.

It is also recommended that, for existing helicopters used in offshore operations, a means of deploying each liferaft is available above the waterline, whether the helicopter is floating upright or inverted.

Cameras in Cabin and Cockpit

It has been recommended that the EASA introduces a requirement for image recorders to be installed in both the cockpit and cabins of offshore aircraft.

Aircraft that are required to be equipped with Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorders should have image recorders aslo fitted.

Research into Evacuation and Survivability Required

It is recommended that the EASA instigates a research programme to provide realistic data to better support regulations relating to evacuation and survivability of occupants in commercial helicopters operating offshore.

This programme should better quantify the characteristics of helicopter underwater evacuation and include conditions representative of actual offshore operations and passenger demographics.