Karl Fessenden, the new chief executive of Canadian firm CHC Helicopter, has called for greater engagement with offshore oil and gas workers to improve the industry’s overall levels of safety.

Speaking at the operator’s annual Safety and Quality summit in Vancouver on 23 March, Fessenden said that too often helicopter operators’ communication with their passengers “is perceived as a checklist exercise: one-way and hollow”.

A first step, he says, is to assure the offshore workers “are not seen, and do not see themselves, as merely ‘self-loading freight’”.

“If you think that our resolve to always get passengers safely to their destination is understood by all – well, you might want to speak with a few offshore workers. Because it is not,” Fessenden says.

The quest for improved safety should be a “shared” one, he says, and delivered through a number of initiatives – including educating the workforce on the need for a collective safety management system, and “promoting mutual respect, trust and deference, based on experience and accountability”.

More broadly, Fessenden points to the recent development of CHC’s operational flight planning system (OFPS), part of its electronic flightbag initiative.

The result of hours of pilot testing, OFPS enables wireless, online, pre-flight planning and in-flight data recording, which is incorporated into its flight-planning, crew-management and maintenance systems.

“By reducing paperwork and administration in the cockpit, this enhanced OFPS lets pilots be much more ‘heads out’ – rather than ‘heads in’ – during flight,” he says.

UK regulator the Civil Aviation Authority recently approved the roll-out of OFPS to all of CHC’s bases in the country.

The operator has had recent difficulties with safety in the UK. In 2013 four passengers were killed after a CHC Scotia-operated Airbus Helicopters AS332 L2 crashed into the sea off Sumburgh, Shetland. Prior to that it lost an H225 in October 2012, when the helicopter was ditched off the coast of Scotland due to a gearbox fault.

Source: FlightGlobal.com