Gretchen Haskins is the CEO of HeliOffshore, an organisation dedicated to enhancing safety across the global offshore helicopter industry. She is an internationally recognised expert in human factors, and respected throughout the industry for her knowledge and leadership of safety performance improvement. She also serves as a board member of the Flight Safety Foundation.
We sat down with her to discuss the landscape of safety, transportation and the work that HeliOffshore is doing.
NM: What have been the most significant advances in safety over the last five years?
GH: While stakeholders across the offshore helicopter industry continue to improve tools, systems, and processes, I believe the greatest advance in safety was made in 2014, when the five largest global offshore helicopter operators decided to stop competing on safety and formed HeliOffshore.
Since then, over 90 organisations have joined HeliOffshore and are working together to deliver on a shared commitment: to eliminate the loss of life due to offshore helicopter transportation.
Our collaboration has already led to two manufacturers publishing flight crew operations manuals, the publication of best practice for health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS), and eye-tracking research to enhance performance of crews in the cockpit.
NM: What are the main safety threats to offshore helicopter operations?
GH: Offshore helicopter operators are carrying people to and from some of the most remote workplaces in the world, and often in extremely challenging conditions. Data reveals that the vast majority of accidents are caused by one of three main events: system failure, aircraft upset, and surface or obstacle conflict.
The HeliOffshore Safety Strategy focuses industry-wide activity into three work streams that will address these safety threats. We are working together to improve the reliability and resilience of systems, to increase operational effectiveness, and ensure that the right safety enablers are in place. Those enablers include sharing safety expertise industry-wide, so that all of those who work within and rely on offshore flight are benefiting from our best knowledge.
NM: How do you see safety strategy developing in the future and what do you hope will be achieved?
GH: By aligning the vast expertise and considerable resources of our global industry behind one shared strategy, we should see huge advances in the development of safety strategy.
A number of parties have done significant work to determine the strategic priorities for safety, most recently articulated in HeliOffshore’s Safety Strategy. Our strategy was informed by – and aligns with – the IOGP strategy, Norwegian HSS1-3 studies, EASA technology study, and IHST priorities. We considered various detailed reviews of accidents and causal factors, including a recent EASA review.
By developing the strategy in collaboration with operators, oil companies, manufacturers and regulators; and reiterating it at our conference in May, our members endorsed the strategy and are uniting to make sure it is delivered. HeliOffshore has created a means for our industry to commit to a resourced programme of activity, specifically aimed at making the greatest difference to safety in the frontline.
By bringing together thousands of experts to identify and implement safety enhancements, we will protect the lives of those who travel offshore. That is our ultimate aim.
NM: Can you outline the main aims of the HeliOffshore Safety Strategy that was launched in May 2016?
GH: The strategy provides our global industry with a common language and framework to enhance safety. It directs focus to those activities that, when performed well in the frontline, will prevent accidents.
We are starting with a fundamental review to identify how to enhance the reliability and resilience of the offshore fleet and the systems that support it – both human and machine. The review is a partnership between HeliOffshore members, regulators, and independent third party experts. We are also accelerating the implementation of enhanced terrain awareness and warning systems (HTAWS) and are enabling information sharing between members around the world.
Offshore helicopter crews and passengers are travelling to and from work – and that’s a journey that everyone should expect to end safely. Through the combined efforts of the industry, this will be achieved.
Helitech International 2016 is hosting an Operators Forum on Tuesday 11 October, a networking opportunity aimed at operators to talk informally with their peers about the most important issues currently facing the industry. To reserve your place and let us know the topics that you would like to discuss, visit: www.helitechinternational.com/operatorsforum
HeliOffshore is a global safety-focused organisation formed by major providers of offshore helicopter transportation. They enable helicopter operators to develop, share and apply best practices, create and use advanced technology, and advocate for harmonised flight standards. You can read the HeliOffshore Safety Strategy here: http://helioffshore.org/conference/