Flight Safety Group Increases Helo Focus

By Staff Writer | November 1, 2015

A highly respected international safety organization is expanding its focus on rotorcraft operations and reaching out to operators and associations to discuss areas of common interest and concern.

The Flight Safety Foundation is refining a proven risk-standard set to make it particularly useful to companies that work in the offshore environment and the aviation operators that support them. It also is reaching out more to operators in Africa, Asia and Latin America to collaborate with them in addressing safety issues and is doing the same with organizations working focused on improving rotorcraft safety throughout the world.

“We would love to be able to work with other organizations and assist them where we can in enhancing helicopter safety globally,” said Greg Marshall. “Not just in the offshore world but in other sectors as well.”

Flight Safety Foundation VP Greg Marshall said the group is keen to work with others to enhance helicopter safety globally.
Photo courtesy of the Flight Safety Foundation

Marshall is vice president of global programs for the Alexandria, Virginia-headquartered foundation.

The foundation has a long history of uniting aviation industry leaders in efforts to identify key safety threats and develop global programs and resources for reducing them. In the fixed-wing world, it launched global campaigns in the late 1990s that helped drive down the number of accidents involving controlled flight into terrain and a subset of crashes occurring during approach and landing.

Established in 1947, the foundation is an international non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide impartial, independent, expert safety guidance and resources for the aviation and aerospace industry. Its members now include more than 1,000 organizations and individuals in 150 countries. In addition to the headquarters, it has a regional office in Melbourne, Australia and affiliated organizations throughout the world.

Five years ago, the group developed the Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) for mining and minerals companies seeking to ensure the safety of their contracted aviation operations. BARS present a set of standards in a risk-based format and includes applicable threats and controls. Since BARS was launched, the foundation said, accredited auditors have conducted more than 300 safety audits on fixed- and rotary-wing charter aircraft operators worldwide, contributing to a reduction in number of resource-sector accidents.

The foundation in May introduced an offshore-specific version, BARS for Offshore Helicopter Operations, which the foundation said was a first for a helicopter sector that has relied on safety and risk-management guidelines. Marshall said this version “enables the unique threats associated with this challenging environment” to be identified and mitigated.

“The helicopter sector is as important to us as any of the fixed-wing type of operations,” he said. “There are a lot of parallels in terms of safety between fixed-wing and rotary-wing operations and there are also some specific threats that existing in the helicopter operational environment.”

Before he took the VP post, Marshall was managing director of the BARS program for 3.5 years. Prior to joining the foundation, he was head of safety, risk and compliance for a major contract aviation company.

The foundation also is organizing a series of workshops around the world to build bonds with operators and familiarize them with it and its resources. “The foundation to its credit has always said that it is international, independent and impartial, so it’s always intended to be an international organization,” Marshall said, but it has had a reputation for focusing on North America and Europe.

He said the group is working actively to change that, with workshops planned for next year in Africa and Asia.

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