A study performed by Safetec Nordic some years ago pinpointed what are the main differences between onshore helicopter transport and offshore helicopter transport. Statistically, the onshore helicopter transport has more than one decade higher accident frequency per flight hour, compared to offshore helicopter transport. This is true even after the tragic accident in late April.
The framwork conditions are the source of the main difference between the onshore and offshore helicopter activities. In this author’s view this is one of the clearest demonstrations ever found of the importance of framework conditions for safety.
There are at present two threats to the good framework conditions in the offshore helicopter activity, one is the proposed reduction in helicopter turn-around time between flights, from 60 minutes to 30 minutes. Professor Stein Haugen, colleague at the Department of Marine Technology, has written an excellent cronicle about this.
The other threat is to adopt EU regulations that allow any helicopter company from anywhere in EU to operate in the Norwegian offshore helicopter activities. Such massive change of framework conditions is bound to have a very dramatic effect on helicopter safety. We understand the Ministry of Transport has not decided yet whether to adopt this or not. The present is a very strong warning not to adopt this EU regulation.