18 August 2011

Offshore board responds to helicopter inquiry report

From the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board [paragraphing altered for readability; original here]:

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) today responded to the final report of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry  entitled "Report and Recommendations arising from the Transportation Safety Board's Report".

The submission of this report signals the completion of the inquiry. The C-NLOPB wishes to extend its gratitude to Commissioner Robert Wells, Inquiry counsel and staff, parties with standing, families of the victims [of the Cougar 491 crash]  and to all others, most notably, Robert Decker, who contributed to the Inquiry and, in doing so, to improvements in offshore helicopter safety.

The report contains four recommendations.

Recommendation 1 is directed at the C-NLOPB and the remaining three are directed at Transport Canada
or Governments. The Board's response to each  recommendation is as follows:

Recommendation 1 - Alert Service Bulletins

We have accepted this Recommendation and have directed the Operators to develop a plan for compliance in conjunction with work they are already doing in response to Phase I Recommendation 7, dealing with Airworthiness Directives. We will ask the Phase I Implementation Team to provide oversight of the Operators' work.

Recommendation 2 - Helicopter Passenger Suit

We have referred this Recommendation to Transport Canada and the Canadian General Standards Board for consideration as part of their ongoing work to create a  new Helicopter Passenger Transportation Suit standard. There is a broadly-based committee engaged in this work,  including C-NLOPB, CNSOPB, Operators and suit manufacturers.

Recommendation 3 - TSB Recommendations

We have passed this Recommendation along to Transport Canada.

The C-NLOPB has already been engaged in a Focus Group to assist Transport Canada in their plans to respond to Recommendations in the Phase I and Phase II report. 

We have requested that the Operators determine what plans Cougar and Sikorsky have for retro-fitting the Cougar fleet.

Also, we have asked our Aviation Advisor to review with Transport Canada any plans for removal of the "extremely remote" provision. He will also discuss with them any plans to review the adequacy of the 30-minute run-dry requirement.

Recommendation 4 - Separate Regulator

We have forwarded this Recommendation to both Governments for their consideration. Recommendation 29 (b) in the Phase I report recommended that consideration be given to the creation of a separate and autonomous safety division within the C-NLOPB.

The C-NLOPB has acted on this recommendation by separating the safety and operations functions into two separate departments. The Operations Department will be headed by Mr. Howard Pike and the Safety Department will be headed by Mr. Dan Chicoyne.

Mr. Chicoyne was recently hired by the Board and he will take on the responsibility of Chief Safety Officer. He has extensive experience in safety and was the Chief Accident Investigator for the Canadian Forces, as well as the Director of Flight Safety for the Canadian Forces.

Mr. Chicoyne is also a former fixed wing and helicopter pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces and held the rank of Colonel.

While the C-NLOPB asked Commissioner Wells to review the TSB report, it also conducted its own review.

The Board's review did not identify any deficiencies or gaps in the current implementation plan. 

The Board is now satisfied that the implementation strategy developed in response to Phase I, with the change recommended by Commissioner Wells, fully encompasses all elements of the TSB report that needed to be addressed by the C-NLOPB.

Media Contact:
Sean Kelly M.A., APR, FCPRS
Manager of Public Relations
(709) 778-1418
(709) 689-0713 cell

- srbp -