NEWS | UK HeliOffshore

Return to Base Events Causal Factors

HeliOffshore, an association dedicated to improving offshore helicopter safety, collected data shows how addressing the main causal factors of return to base (RTB) events will further strengthen the reliability and resilience of offshore helicopter operations

Return to Base Events Causal Factors
HeliOffshore, March 04, 2019 - Collaborative work involving HeliOffshore member companies has achieved a breakthrough in identifying the most effective way to implement solutions for the main causal factors of Return to Base (RTB) events.

Driven by analysis of frontline data, the work to resolve the underlying causes of RTBs will strengthen the reliability and resilience of offshore helicopter operations—boosting both passenger confidence and the business efficiency of these flights.

By sharing frontline data through the HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme (HSIP), members have been able to create a detailed global picture of RTBs that is helping us to understand where we can target our actions to reduce the causes and frequency of these events.

While the decision to return to base is perfectly sound from a safety point of view, tackling the causal factors means that the situations where RTB might be required happen less frequently. HeliOffshore wants to be able to reduce the exposure of crews to increased workload that could increase the risk of errors being made. Any in-flight changes have the potential to introduce a new set of safety challenges to an operation. These events also can erode the confidence of passengers in the safety of offshore helicopter transportation.

From analysis of the data, HeliOffshore’s System Reliability & Resilience workstream has been able to see the degree to which each causal factor contributes to the overall number of RTBs. Typically, addressing 10 to 15 causal factors could eliminate around 50 percent of the RTBs, providing a significant operational benefit. HeliOffshore’s Technical Steering Group, which includes operator, manufacturer and oil company representatives, is now finalising plans for these enhancements across offshore fleets.

HeliOffshore is the global safety-focused association of the offshore helicopter industry that works collaboratively with all key stakeholders to develop and implement safety programmes identified has having the most potential to save lives. The association consists of 120 member companies who are involved in an unprecedented collaboration that involves sharing data, agreeing work priorities identified as delivering the greatest value for safety and implementing joined up action plans that deliver results that can be objectively verified.

“This project has given the operators a unique opportunity to share and analyse deidentified data that is now driving work with our manufacturer members to agree solutions to further enhance reliability and resilience,” commented HeliOffshore’s System Reliability & Resilience Project Manager Scott Carmichael. “This will deliver safety improvements in the frontlines, as well as boosting the ethos of collaboration that underpins all of HeliOffshore’s work.”

“It is absolutely correct that flight crew decide to return to base in certain situations” commented HeliOffshore CEO Gretchen Haskins. “However, by addressing the underlying causal factors, this project can reduce the frequency of return to base events. This will result in greater reliability and resilience, as well as boosting confidence among passengers. It’s also good for business because it avoids the cost of cancelled and delayed flights for both operators and oil companies.”

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