Enhancing flight safety

October 22, 1998, 10:00 CEST

A series of measures is being adopted by Statoil to enhance the safety of offshore travel by helicopter.

Cutting landings and shuttle flights while ensuring people spend as little time as possible in the air, these steps follow last year's crash near the Norne field in the Norwegian Sea.

A project set up by the group after that incident has aimed to make helicopter flights safer and to improve the organisation of emergency response systems.

Some of the measures proposed by this study have already been implemented, with both emergency response plans for the public affairs service and counselling support for personnel upgraded.

In addition, qualification requirements for heliguards and radio operators have been tightened up.

Other plans include an upgrading of the helicopter fleet used by Statoil as new types and models come on the market in 2001. Sikorsky machines are already due to be replaced in the near future by brand-new Super Puma models.

Work on a manual for air operations in the Statoil group has also been initiated, and a core team to supervise the aircraft programme is being established.

"We're very pleased with the job done by the group so far," says Oddvar Haugvaldstad, deputy chair for the Statoil branch of the Norwegian Oil and Petrochemical Workers Union (Nopef).

"That goes for the measures already implemented and those which are being pursued.

"But we expect Statoil to install the equipment needed to cover helidecks on the Norne and Åsgard A production ships with foam. In our view, these helidecks are the most unsafe because the vessels will move as they produce."

In cooperation with the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Administration, Statoil has proposed the establishment of a regional centre of expertise for helicopter flights.