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Go Further, Do More

Safety and innovation has been CHC’s mantra for years, as articulated in the company’s corporate mission statement, to “go further, do more and bring everyone home safely.” Greg Wyght has been pursuing one simple vision for a long time – let the pilots focus on their number one priority, flying the aircraft safely.


March 5, 2015
By Paul Dixon|

Topics

Safety and innovation has been CHC’s mantra for years, as articulated in the company’s corporate mission statement, to “go further, do more and bring everyone home safely.” Greg Wyght has been pursuing one simple vision for a long time – let the pilots focus on their number one priority, flying the aircraft safely.

CHC-Offshore-Brazil  
CHC continues to make enhancements in safety to vastly improve organizational efficiency. (Photo courtesy of CHC)


 

Wyght, now vice president of systems operations and responsible for CHC’s world operations centre in Dallas, Texas told Helicopters in a recent conversation, “I’ve been on a mission for years, from before the Summit started, to get the administration duties and paperwork out of the cockpit and get our pilots’ heads up, flying the aircraft, as opposed to heads down doing calculations regarding fuel and payloads.” Now, CHC is poised to complete the final leg in linking its far-flung operations into one global operating unit, establishing and maintaining the highest possible operating standards for crews and aircraft.

It has been a long and winding road as CHC has grown to its place as the largest commercial helicopter operator in the world. From a single Bell 47 more than 65 years ago the company today operates more than 250 helicopters in 28 countries on six continents. Not the easiest road to navigate over the years with the challenges inherent in change management and the uncertainty of planning for the future in an often volatile and unpredictable business environment. At the same time, CHC has taken a leadership role in the industry, joining with their major competitors such as Bristow, Babcock, Era and PHI in creating HeliOffshore – an initiative to further enhance offshore flight safety that will have global implications.

The CHC Safety & Quality Summit grew from a seed planted by Wyght in 2002, when 35 CHC employees met in Prague, Czech Republic to build one common safety standard across CHC’s worldwide operations. As the seed sprouted, Wyght was appointed VP of safety and quality in 2004 with the mandate to create a common Safety Management System (SMS) standard across the organization. That was the start of the Safety Summit, but it quickly grew to include the entire spectrum of aviation flight safety, accident prevention, quality assurance and occupational health and safety. As others became aware of what was going on, they wanted in and CHC, to its credit, was quick to transform the Summit from an in-house program to an international event that often sells out well in advance. 

Safety-Summit-2010-098  
CHC’s impressive Safety & Quality Summit continues to be an industry mainstay.
(Photo by Paul Dixon)


 

With its robust SMS in place, CHC then took the first step to eliminating paperwork in the cockpit by introducing the EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) beginning in 2012. Partnering with Appareo and using an iPad, the first phase was the digitization of the paper manuals that would have been carried in the aircraft. Once that was in place, the next step was adding the Jeppesen plates which quickly became an indispensable feature for pilots. Once the EFB had been fully approved, the paper manuals and heavy flight bags were history. There is small saving in weight without the bag, but the most important thing is the time line on updates which can now be done electronically, across the world to all bases at the same time. Before, the need to print, collate and ship new manuals or updates to existing manuals could mean weeks before staff in the field actually saw the updates.

In 2012, CHC announced the creation of a global operations centre in Dallas, under the direction of Wyght, to be modelled on the 24/7/365 employed by commercial airlines. The Dallas ops site would consolidate crew planning and scheduling, maintenance, technical support, global flight following and other functions.

In Wyght’s conversation with Helicopters, he detailed the growth of the operations centre over the past two years. “The actual OC that we have is not very big (compared to a commercial airline OC),” he said. “Crew planning and everything related to that side is about 20 people, while the maintenance support side has a few more, maybe 24. Then outside the actual OC, but co-located in the building, are about 50 more people in HR, recruitment, procurement and IT support. All of these people have global roles and its more efficient with them co-located.”

Maintenance for all bases around the world is monitored from Dallas, right down to moment-to-moment serviceability of individual aircraft, technical support issues and aircraft on ground (AOG). There are global calls every morning, for serviceability and maintenance issues, but also for crew planning.

Long-term crew planning deals with crew allocation, deciding what crewmember goes to which base on what aircraft. That is now integrated into global training planning to maximize the efficiency in the use of simulators. The training plans that dovetail right into the crew plan are done in Dallas, and then delivered to the base for the day-to-day implementation.

While the original plan may have been to consolidate global control in the Dallas OC, as with a major airline control centre, it quickly became that this was not the best case as Greg Wyght recalls. “We realized that the best way of running the business is what we jokingly call “glocal” – it’s global yet it’s local. We leave operational control with the local management team and we leave them to respond to the local customers. The regions know their business and they know their customers very well.”

The operations centre has become a service provider to the bases and under agreements with each of the regions is expected to deliver services meeting or exceeding expectations based on key performance indicators. “This is a much better model,” Wyght says, “where we have learned to deliver a hybrid service that gets the highest global standard, but is nimble and quick like a local company would operate.”

Sikorsky-S92  
CHC’s involvement in the newly formed HeliOffshore
initiative with rivals Bristow, Babcock, Era and PHI illustrates its
leadership.
(Photo courtesy of CHC)
 

Refinement is part of any new endeavour and Wyght’s safety and quality footprint is no exception. One of the most positive things, he notes, is learning something from one region and being able to pass the information on across the organization. An example that really surprised him was how an apparently small change in scheduling could have a huge impact in human terms and the financial implications. When global rostering started working with global training and crew training requirements, it was realized that by making minor changes in training schedules, crews would not be away from home as long. This tiny schedule adjustment, gave crewmembers more time at home and, on a corporate level, it meant crew would be available to fly instead of being stuck in transit. Currently in Australia, they are running a trial where crew schedules are directly connected to the fatigue management system, allowing management oversight of pilots and ensuring that schedules are within regulatory and fatigue management guidelines.

Now, the EFB is becoming part of the Operational Flight Planning System (OFPS) that is being rolled out at European bases. OFPS integrates AIMS crew planning software and operational flight planning software, which will be presented on the EFB.

Wyght describes OFPS as the next step in the evolutionary chain. Pilots will do their flight plan on a desktop and it will automatically sync to the EFB. When the pilots walk out to the aircraft with the EFB in hand they have their flight plan, their payload information and their fuel calculations – it’s all integrated into the OFPS system. If they get asked to fly to a different rig or change their routing, they can quickly change the routing with a few clicks and their fuel burn and fuel requirements are quickly recalculated. When they lift off they simply click a button on the EFB and it records the time of engine start, time of taxi, time of departure and time of landing.

And when they get back to base, they sync the EFB with the system and all of those times are downloaded, so their flight and duty times are managed automatically. The aircraft technical logs are updated with the accurate flight times right away and even the invoicing system is integrated with that so it puts out an accurate invoice.

By March 2015 all European bases will be on OFPS. “That is a significant change for any aviation company,” Wyght says. “We’re not just changing to an operational flight planning system, we’re also changing to a consistent global model where in multiple AOCs we have the exact same operational flight planning system”.

The benefit of the global operations concept was amply demonstrated by a short notice request from a customer for an off-shore operation in Malta. No spare aircraft or air crew were available on short notice, but the ability of the Dallas OC to see the entire global operation at a glance enabled them to come up with a solution. Working with the regions, initially the job started on an AOC out of the U.K., then for the long-term it was transited to a Cayman Islands AOC. The pilots and engineers for the aircraft came from five different regions.

ERCFlight-FollowingCrew  
Rethinking the flight operations process has helped CHC become safer and far more efficient. (Photo courtesy of CHC).


 

Wyght recalls what happened when their type technical pilot from the Netherlands went to audit the operation. “He sent me a note saying that our global harmonization was really starting to pay off.  Pilots from five different regions flying the same aircraft and they are all following the exact same standards, the exact same calls, using the same checklists, pulling the same power, flying at the same speed. Doing everything exactly the same. That for me is the benefit of having common flight standards, common training and common crew planning, giving us the ability to pull this together and deliver to a customer where it wasn’t possible before. Without question we could not have done this two years ago. It was a huge feeling of success for us in Dallas that we were able to put this together.”

Wyght has another example, in Surinam. “For safety reasons we had to switch to a different type of aircraft. Our crew planning, training group and flight standards group were able to switch that over to a completely different aircraft and get the contract started on time. Again, we are able to deliver a consistent standard globally and faster for our customers than before”.

As the OFPS comes on line, Greg Wyght wants it clearly understood that the success of the implementation has been in no small amount due to the pilots on the front line.

 “We developed the system and then engaged a subject matter expert from each region in Europe, the four Air Operating Certificates,” he says. “We drew on them to review what was needed in an operational flight planning system.

"They did an enormous amount of work to give their colleagues a safer cockpit, putting in a tremendous amount of time, even on their days off. They were living and breathing the OFPS. Then when we came to trial the system we implemented the OFPS at bases in Humberside and North Denes in the U.K. and Den Helder in the Netherlands in a three-month trial in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority, after which the crews came back with over three hundred changes, some of which took weeks to implement because of the complexity of integrated software. I was really impressed with the passion, collaboration and sense of professionalism in making this the best system in the industry.”

Wyght added that at the beginning of the implementation, there was a bit of pushback from the users – to be expected in any change management process – which required a bit of a push from above.

But as the implementation went ahead the full potential could be seen by the users, the push very quickly changed to pull as the pilots took ownership of the process and a sense of pride in what was being created.

What it illustrates is that growth is more than simply about becoming the biggest – and maturity is measured in more than just years. Growth in many dimensions is a constant, the direct result of what Wyght describes as CHC’s relentless focus on continuous improvement, never content with the status quo.


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