Commercial, Safety

New Offshore Safety Program is Driving Lifesaving Action Through Data

By HeliOffshore | October 12, 2018
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Photo courtesy of Bristow

The new HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme (HSIP) is giving the offshore helicopter industry a clear picture of its safety performance, delivering a growing volume of frontline data that supports all aspects of HeliOffshore’s collaborative work to avoid accidents. Data is already being submitted by operators accounting for more than 80% of aircraft in the combined fleet of the global offshore helicopter safety association.

The program is a prime example of how HeliOffshore is using data to clearly identify key areas for safety improvement. Working in collaboration with an alliance of aircraft operators, manufacturers, system providers, oil companies, regulators and leasing companies strengthens our ability to deliver the right performance enhancements by pooling resources and funding.


“Safety intelligence is about collecting and analysing data for actionable results to give safety benefits by identifying and tackling the root causes of safety issues,” said Project Manager Matthew Greaves. “We are not doing this just to capture what’s happening in the industry, but to improve safety in the industry; this is about frontline operations and real results.”

By gathering growing volumes of key frontline data, HeliOffshore is, for the first time, giving the industry early warning of the leading indicators of potential safety issues. We are also collecting underlying usage data, such as flight hours, which will give the industry a clear understanding of accident and incident rates.

The initial focus of HSIP is to get a comprehensive picture from the global fleet in key aspects of operations, such as approach path management, the reliability and resilience of equipment and maintenance processes. For instance, early analysis of return to base (RTB) data has highlighted an opportunity to reduce exposure to risk by addressing the common causes of these events. It will also allow us to more accurately assess the effectiveness of safety products, such as helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems and flight crew operating manuals, as they are implemented by the offshore helicopter operators.

The RTB data project is part of the work HeliOffshore’s System Reliability & Resilience Workstream is doing to gather and analyse data from HSIP on maintenance errors in order to identify the most common reliability issues. For operators and their oil company customers, this approach has the added benefits of potentially reducing costs and boosting confidence in the safety of operations among passengers.

HSIP also is collecting helicopter flight data monitoring data that is supporting HeliOffshore’s Flight Path Management Work Group in preparing the latest revisions to its Approach Path Management Guidance Materials, which are due to be published in 2019. Initial analysis has allowed HeliOffshore member operators to see variations in parameters such as ground speed in the approach phase of flight to offshore rigs.

Work to prepare for Phase 3 of HSIP will begin in early 2019. Its implementation in early 2020 will result in a significant expansion of the data sets collected to possibly include full flight data, as well as data from health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS).

“This will allow us to start fusing multiple sources of data together to give a full understanding of what it tells us,” said HeliOffshore Operations Director François Lassale. “This approach will facilitate predictive modelling that will make us fully aware of the weak signals that provide early warning of potential accidents, giving us the time and information we need to remedy these.”

HeliOffshore also intends to consider the introduction of some new data analysis techniques such as machine learning, which the U.K.’s Cranfield University has been applying to flight data.

Data is protected by HSIP’s governance process, which ensures that the data is always fully anonymised. The governance process, which is subject to a memorandum of understanding signed by participating operators, is overseen by HeliOffshore’s Safety Steering Group under the authority of HeliOffshore's board of directors. To develop and implement HSIP, HeliOffshore has partnered with Tonic Analytics, NLR and GE Digital.

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