Helicopters Magazine

Features Procedures Safety & Training
Editorial: The Sensible Approach

In his poignant column in this edition of Helicopters, columnist Walter Heneghan makes a passionate plea to all members of the Canadian helicopter industry to not only enhance their own personal safety footprint but also step up their participation in the Helicopter Association of Canada and its various committees.


October 22, 2013
By Matt Nicholls


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In his poignant column in this edition of Helicopters, columnist Walter Heneghan makes a passionate plea to all members of the Canadian helicopter industry to not only enhance their own personal safety footprint but also step up their participation in the Helicopter Association of Canada and its various committees – particularly the Safety Committee.

It’s a timely and constructive message, as working to create the safest operating environment possible needs to be a top priority for all individuals and organizations associated with this important Canadian industry. And as Heneghan aptly points out, more needs to be done to ensure this goal is met at HAC and elsewhere. It simply means a commitment from all parties – and the usual suspects can’t be counted on to carry the load.

An enhanced commitment to safety is a message that’s obviously not lost on Helicopters readers. An online poll on our website reveals some 67 per cent of respondents believe the Canadian operating environment is not as safe as it could be and much more needs to be done in order to achieve a more secure landscape. Pilots, managers, engineers, AMEs, as well as the major OEMs and suppliers that drive the industry, must work together to ensure the blades keep turning while accidents are kept at bay.

Fortunately, there are many examples of Canadian companies delivering on this promise. In late September, for example, Vancouver’s CHC Helicopter, one of the prominent players in the global oil and gas market, joined forces with the Avincis Group and the Bristow Group to form a joint partnership to review offshore oil and gas safety practices.

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As part of this new corporate partnership, safety and quality experts from each of the three companies will review policies and procedures in several different areas – such as flight training, automation, emergency response planning – to share best practices. The process initially will focus on European operations, but eventually will concentrate on all regions of the globe to find better safety solutions for all working environments. The group also will reach out to other operators for their expertise and encourage them to join the working group.

The formation of the group came just weeks after the tragic crash of a CHC Super Puma AS332 L2 off the Shetland, U.K., coast that claimed four lives. CHC is actively working to find the root cause of the accident and establish ways to prevent such tragic events. It’s a commitment the company has consistently illustrated over the years through the development of such initiatives as the annual CHC Quality & Safety Summit, which has evolved into a leading industry event that strives to enhance safety throughout the global operating environment.

“Everyone benefits when the people who rely on us for their livelihoods are able to return home safely, and it remains our obligation to do everything humanly possible to fulfil that expectation,” said CHC president and CEO Bill Amelio.

Individuals at two other Canadian companies and a Quebec-based operator also have taken leadership positions in establishing safe operating environments. Each has been honoured by Eurocopter Canada as a finalist for its annual Innovation in Safety Award. The award, to be presented at this year’s HAC conference in Vancouver, recognizes groups, companies, organizations, individuals or agencies for outstanding achievement in maintaining safe Canadian rotary-wing flying operations, while utilizing an exceptional or groundbreaking approach.

Finalists this year include Phoenix Heli-Flight president Paul Spring for his dedicated work on the implementation of Helicopter Flight Data Monitoring on his fleet of helicopters and his work with the Global Helicopter Flight Data Monitoring Steering Group; Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) Captain Jay McCallum for producing a comprehensive internal video that describes the safety and corporate culture of the organization; and the Panorama Helicopters’ team for its implementation of innovative tools to improve awareness and efficiency. While only one will win the top prize of $5,000, a plaque and recognition amongst their peers, their collective commitment to enhancing safety will have far-reaching tentacles that will work to motivate others to strive for a safer future.

The bottom line is this: the safety quotient in the Canadian helicopter industry is not merely the responsibility of a select few but the shared responsibility of everyone it touches, from the OEMs to the maintenance teams who turn the wrenches. Helicopters commends the efforts of those who are innovating today and striving for a better tomorrow.


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