The helicopter part of business aviation needs to raise its safety performance along with the rest of the rotary-wing sector, according to Brian Humphries, president and chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association.

Speaking at the 2-4 October International Helicopter Safety Seminar in Cascais, Portugal, Humphries said work has begun at the International Business Aviation Council to bring the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operation (IS-BAO) programme - already established for fixed-wing business aviation operations - to the rotary-wing sector.

Adapting IS-BAO to take account of the different demands faced by helicopter operators is expected to take about a year, but like its fixed-wing counterpart, it will be designed to raise safety performance, to operate as a means of assisting regulatory compliance, to enable operators to offer a trusted safety accreditation to customers, and to provide a safety management audit system that would replace the multiple separate audits some operators face - particularly those engaged in offshore work.

Humphries says the IS-BAO concept is ideally suited for adaptation to the rotary-wing sector, because having been devised for business aviation it takes account of the different needs of operators of all sizes, particularly the small operators that make up most of the business aviation sector in both fixed and rotary wing.

He recommends it as a "user-friendly", industry-devised system for keeping standards high, which has considerable advantages over a heavy-handed regulatory system for imposing safety.

The International Helicopter Safety Team's global programme to analyse the reasons for rotary-wing accidents, and to devise intervention strategies to prevent them, is now reaching maturity, the conference at Cascais learned.

Humphries pointed out that the IS-BAO-HE, as a system for identifying and applying best practice, would be an effective industry system for embodying the lessons learned through the IHST's work. Independent studies of the IS-BAO have determined that its application would have prevented between a third and a half the accidents that occur in the fixed-wing business aviation sector.

Source: Flight International