DAVID LEARMOUNT / LONDON
Proposed changes are aimed at making night-time approaches easier for pilots
Proposed major improvements to helideck lighting, particularly for offshore landing sites, have been given the go-ahead as a world standard.
The principal aims are to reduce helideck glare and overcome the "black hole" effect sometimes experienced as helicopter pilots conduct their night-time final approaches toward the touchdown aim point.
The changes have been developed following two years of research sponsored by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, and the results have been so impressive the International Civil Aviation Organisation is putting the system forward for adoption.
"These modifications will make it easier for the pilot to locate the helideck among the general oil rig lighting," the agency reports. CAA research project manager David Howson says: "This work has identified a number of helideck lighting improvements that will increase the safety of operations to offshore helidecks at night. All pilots who have seen the new lighting have been very enthusiastic."
In anticipation of international agreement, the CAA has issued interim guidance to the UK industry to encourage oil rig and ship operators to upgrade their helideck lighting systems as soon as possible. Guidance includes instructions to change the perimeter lighting from yellow to green and, "where practical", replace deck-level floodlighting with a high-mounted system in a safe area on the inboard side of the helideck. The proposals suggest a circle of yellow light around the yellow-painted aiming circle with a green-lit H-mark at its centre.
Performed by the CAA with UK-based research company Qinetiq, the research has been carried out at the NAM K14 platform in the Dutch sector of the North Sea, but work for land heliport lighting has also been carried out at Longside Airfield near Aberdeen, Scotland and continues at Norwich International airport in eastern England.
Source: Flight International