Five key trends learned from HeliOffshore 2017 in quality, safety and risk management

By Greig Duncan | Ideagen

Last week saw the conclusion of HeliOffshore 2017 in Budapest, one of the most renowned events on the calendar for enhancing offshore helicopter safety. I was delighted to represent Ideagen at this extremely valuable event.

During my career to date, I have built up strong experience in offshore emergency response – with International SOS and Falck Safety Services – and spent time on the emergency media response rota with the likes of Bristow Helicopters, so I was looking forward to learning more about the various barriers that are put in place to help to prevent such events happening.

During the two-day conference I gathered countless “golden nuggets of information” from both the group table exercises and the presentations from industry leaders on stage, including HeliOffshore’s CEO, Gretchen Haskins and her fellow board members – from the likes of Bristow Group, CHC, Era, Babcock, Cougar, IOGP, et al.

There were a number of key trends, which I have diluted down to the five most impactful:

1.       A real desire to adapt to market conditions

I previously worked for a company called Collabro in Aberdeen, who manages the Vantage POB service, when market conditions first started to descend and feel the impact of an oil price that had begun to spiral into a downturn (particularly evident in the North Sea). During this time, there was a feeling that the oil and gas and offshore industry would simply “batten down the hatches and ride out the storm” – it is clear now that this is not the case.

Encouragingly, there was a recognition at the event that the market has acknowledged the need to adapt and innovate towards efficiency, rather than clock (or price) watching on oil price – whilst keeping safety at the top of the agenda.

2.       Quality Assurance within OEMS is a Golden Thread

Quality assurance is vital to ensuring market efficiencies, starting with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), all the way through to operational flights. Technical and mandatory occurrence reporting and feedback to help analyse events to decide if preventative and/or corrective measures are required. 

Companies within the room strongly encouraged customers to report any event considered as abnormal (such as EASA document AMC 20-8).

Airbus Helicopters specifically defines these actions as:

Preventive measures are aimed at keeping up flight safety. They generally correspond to additional maintenance (inspections, replacement of parts, etc.) but they can also introduce new limitations, either concerning the flight envelope or the operating time of components.

Corrective measures, which can include product modifications, preclude the identified risk of failure and enable a return to simplified maintenance

Thus further emphasising the need to effectively identify and work together help eliminate risks and non-conformances in design and first article inspection, to enhance quality and in turn safety performance.

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