Report on air accident in Port of Bergen, Hordaland county, Norway, 10 May 2017 involving Airbus Helicopters AS 350 B3, G-HKCN
10 May 2017 a British registered helicopter of the type Airbus Helicopters AS 350 B3 with three persons on board was about to land on the helideck on a yacht, when the helicopter lost control and crashed into the sea.
The helicopter was equipped with flotation gear and floated upside down in the sea. One person was seriously injured and two persons got minor injuries. The investigation revealed a lack of follow-up of the described routines for preparation for helicopter operations on board the yacht. Among other things, the helideck was not adequately prepared.
A tarpaulin covering a fuel tank on the helideck was not adequately secured. The helicopter established hover over the helideck, and stood in low hover over the deck for approx. 15 seconds. During these seconds, the tarpaulin loosened due to the downdraft from the main rotor. The helicopter was flown by a pilot who had minimal experience on the helicopter type.
The person had not received any type rating in his pilot's license yet, since the skill test had occurred the day before the accident. When the tarpaulin came loose, the commander, who was a flight instructor, tried to manoeuvre the helicopter away from the tarpaulin. He was not able to do so since this happened very quickly. The damage sustained by the main rotor made the helicopter uncontrollable.
No safety recommendation is issued in connection with this investigation.
Some key points from the investigation from a helideck perspective:
If the yacht had been in commercial operation, it would have been subject to certification in accordance with Annex 6 of the Large Yacht Code or CAP 437 (Standards for offshore helicopter landing areas, Civil Aviation Authority UK). Annex 6 only covers the technical aspects of the landing area, and the operational circumstances would have been under the requirements for ISM certification.
In spite of the fact that it was not required from any authority, M/Y Bacarella nevertheless had a Helicopter Operations Manual on board. The procedures laid down in this manual to prepare for helicopter landings were not adhered to on the day of the accident. The newly employed first mate was not properly trained or briefed on the tasks and responsibilities in the role as HLO.
The manual's check list for preparing for helicopter operations says the following about loose items on the helideck:
Any loose items in the vicinity of the helideck must be secured immediately or reported to the HLO.
The yacht's master explained that he felt pressed for time to prepare the ship for the helicopter landing. He accepted to rush the preparation. As a result, several issues in the Helicopter Operations Manual were omitted.
The fire fighting equipment was not prepared for use on the helideck, and a safety tender was not set out.
Many lessons identified and hopefully learned:
Yacht owners / brokers are now beginning to reaslise that Private Ops may not be the best option, get your helideck and supporting infrastructure assessed by a credable organisation.
Gret having an Ops Manual, but do you use it to prop up the galley table or let it gather dust on the pretty bookshelf? An Ops manual is a living breathing document, use it, learn from it and develop it.
Was the HLO trained, if so when was the last time he operated aviation. Final checks prior to landing, if in doubt refer to the Ops manual.
Never feel pressurised to conduct flying ops if you feel something is not right. I know for me sitting at my office desk it is easy for me to say this, and I knwo first hand the pressure the team maybe under to rush, but please please when in these situations, stop and think of the consquences of your actions and decision making process.
What do you think was goiing through the mind of that HLO post the crash,?
NEVER EVER BE AFRAID TO SAY STOP!
This publication provides the criteria applied by the CAA in assessing the standards of offshore helicopter landing areas for worldwide use by helicopters registered in the United Kingdom.
Edition 8 amendment 01/2018 is issued to clarify aspects of the final specification and installation arrangements for the Lit Touchdown/ Positioning Marking Circle and Lit Heliport Identification ‘H’ Marking. The requirement for floodlighting to aid the visual task of final approach, hover and landing is removed.
Chapter 5 has been re-written to amplify new international best practices. The NUI fire-fighting scheme has been updated including withdrawl of the 2011 industry letter.
A further update of the helideck surface section is presented with the introduction of a new helideck contamination scale, waiving of full-scale testing of legacy profiled helidecks, and further refinements to best practice including an update to the Friction Survey Protocol. Finally, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Requirements for Air Operators, Operational Requirements Part-OPS, Annex VI Part SPA (AMC1 SPA.HOFO.115 Use of offshore locations) has been refined in Appendix A to ensure it fully reflects best practice for operations on the UKCS.
A great week working in the Netherlands and UK. Back to basics with assisting FMTC to develop a bespoke helideck training facility which emulates and brings awesome training fidelity to students.
We kicked around the idea on paper some 5 weeks ago and this week we were almost complete with a full-scale helideck marked out correctly as per CAP 437 with induced restrictions in the LOS, OFS and 5:1 to get the student thinking, heli-refuelling system and primary / secondary/complimentary fire suppression systems installed, briefing area for toolbox talks and heli-admin.
Not only are we just ticking the OPITO / NOGEPA HLO HOIT training requirement, but we are also taking it a step further to ensure students are confident and ready to build competence in their working environment when they leave the training unit.
So refreshing and awesome to be working with a company who are innovators and willing to invest in quality training which is already paying dividends in student feedback and uptake.
Topped off with Co-chairing the Helioffshore Helideck Work Group meeting with members from around the globe and a UK hospital helipad survey to support improvements to the site in order to operate day and night HEMS ops.
As a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society Rotorcraft Committee, I was given the task of organising this year's Alan Bristow Memorial Lecture which was held at the RAeS in London.
This years theme was The Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier, presented by Admiral Sir Simon Lister KCB OBE. Sir Simon has the responsibility of delivering our new aircraft carriers. What a presentation.....simply inspiring.
The link below is a recording of the lecture which was lauded as one of the most memorable AB lectures to date.
We recently delivered support services to Seaway Heavy Lift in preparation for the deployment of the Heavy Lift Vessel Oleg Strashnov to the UKCS where she will be working on several wind farm development projects. The Captain and crew were absolutely fantastic hosts and working with them on this "mighty machine" was a joy. They are ready in all respects for aviation!
Yet another hugely successful training session carried out in the UK, developing further the helideck environment and capabilities / restrictions for both aircrew and regulators from Canada. Students, from Cougar Helicopters, Canadian Helicopters and the Canadian Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, great debates and interaction. This course is not about GDO talking for 2 days, it’s about working together to bring to the fore the fact that the helideck and its supporting infrastructure are key elements in the flight safety loop. Looking forward to seeing you all again in the near future, either in St John's or at the Aviation Seminar.
So far the reviews for this course have been outstanding...thank you!
GDO had the privelidge of working with the Royal Netherlands Navy, operating from Den Helder assiting them in development of multi spot aviation operations. What a great team of people, from CO down, they all embraced avaition with such passion. Loved working with 7 Test and Standards Squadron as well as 300 Squadron Royal Netherlands Air Force, integrating Airbus Cougar and NH90 helicopters.
Well it was all at sea again, back to my roots with the Omani Navy conducting some quality assurance oversight of both Royal Omani Navy and Royal Navy Flight Deck Officer Instructors. A series of classroom evaluations followed by sea time with students and instructors on one of the Royal Omani Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels. We were supported by a Super Lynx from the Royal Omani Air Force.
A gruelling series of deck landing practice and refuelling scenarios operating in day, dusk and night operations meant the team were exposed to some awesome training. Well done everyone.
It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all.
When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done.
If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.