The FAA has approved Era Helicopters’ flight quality assurance program, marking what the company said is the first approval of such a program for a FAR Part 135 operator.
Era plans equip its helicopter fleet with flight data monitoring and health and usage monitoring systems. The goal is to collect signals on a flight data recorder on the helicopter that can be extracted with a quick access recorder and pulled from the aircraft.
FAA regulations require aircraft with more than 10 passengers be equipped with a flight data recorder, but some helicopters are exempt. Era’s decision to equip its 130 aircraft contributed to the FAA’s approval.
Era is using Sagem Avionics’ analysis ground station software. Era sees the program as beneficial to the company as well as the people who fly on the helicopters. It is proactive for accident prevention, said Era, and will record unsafe behavior. It can also be used as a training tool and to evaluate pilot performance. If an accident occurs and the pilot was not willfully or purposefully committing an unsafe act, there is no punishment. Era’s primary business is offshore support in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska as well as flightseeing in Alaska.