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Unexpected Events Pilot Monitoring Research Report

HeliOffshore, the global, safety-focused association for the offshore helicopter industry, releases unexpected events pilot monitoring research report

Unexpected Events Pilot Monitoring Research Report
HeliOffshore, September 15, 2022 - Today HeliOffshore released a paper from its Pilot Monitoring Research work titled ‘Summary of Research and Applied Training Tools’.

The paper explores new deep-dive research into patterns of pilots’ attentional focus in cockpit monitoring following unexpected events. The report aims to enhance the industry’s understanding of these issues and inform mitigations.

Using flight simulators and eye tracking technology, the HeliOffshore research observed pilots flying a range of scenarios with unexpected events of varying criticality and ambiguity to measure the impact on the crews’ focus of attention.

The eye-trackers showed exactly where pilots were looking, and whether they were monitoring the ‘aviate’ (aircraft orientation), ‘navigate’ (flightpath management), or ‘systems management tasks.

Any loss in pilots’ focus on the flight path is not visible to safety management systems, safety data, or reporting, and does not lend itself well to pilot recall. As a result, the impact of unexpected events on pilots’ attention and flightpath monitoring has remained a hidden issue and may have been a factor in previous accidents.

The research team developed a mitigation experiment to give pilots a framework to practice re-distributing attention in a way that maintains robust flight path monitoring. Pilots who received mitigation training showed positive results in managing the ‘aviate’ and ‘navigate’ tasks. Significantly, systems monitoring never overwhelmed flight path monitoring and situational awareness was maintained across the research.

The report identifies a range of training elements that can be integrated into technical training briefings and simulator training for front-line crews to help prevent offshore aviation accidents. HeliOffshore will be working with Operators and Training Providers to incorporate these findings into everyday practice.

Jim Evans, Operations Director, HeliOffshore, commented: “Industry analysis by HeliOffshore has found that loss of control inflight and controlled flight into terrain still account for half of all fatal offshore helicopter accidents, so this insightful new research will be pivotal in increasing pilots’ knowledge and awareness of their focus during unexpected events.

“The consistency of the research findings across multiple pilots, experience levels, helicopter types, and regions suggests this issue is universal. We will work closely with our members to incorporate the findings into training documentation and operating procedures.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

The research was designed and conducted by Jarvis Bagshaw Ltd UK on behalf of HeliOffshore. Simulators, briefing facilities and pilot crews were provided by Airbus, Cougar Helicopters, Bristow Helicopters, Leonardo, CAE, CHC Helicopter and Offshore Helicopter Services UK.

A video summary of the report titled ‘Unexpected Event Monitoring – Industry Research Output’

Unexpected Events Pilot Monitoring Research Report

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