The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Federal Minister of Transport,
announced on April 22, 2015 that amendments to the Canadian
Aviation Regulations ("CARs") regarding offshore
helicopter operations in Canada would come into force effective on
July 21, 2015. The objectives of these amendments are to
reduce the risks associated with offshore operations flights and to
bring Canada's standards in line with the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and industry best
practices. The genesis of these changes arises in response to
an earlier loss.
On March 12, 2009, a Sikorsky S-92A helicopter
destined for the Hibernia Oilfield crashed into the Atlantic Ocean
off the coast of N.L. with 16 passengers and 2 crew
members on board. The lone surviving passenger suffered
significant injuries while all other souls were lost.
Following the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's (TSB)
investigation of the incident, the TSB released its Accident
Investigation Report (A09A0016) and made a number of
recommendations. These recommendations were considered by the
federal government and industry in a process of evaluation and
consultation. The result of this work are a number of
amendments intended to reduce the risk of injury or death in the
event of a helicopter ditching during offshore operations, and
should a ditching occur, to reduce the risk of drowning inside the
helicopter, and death due to hyperthermia once outside of the
These new regulations will:
prohibit offshore helicopter operations when the sea state
reported or forecast prior to departure along the planned flight
route, or reported at the destination, exceeds the sea state for
which the helicopter is certified for ditching in water (an
exemption is provided for emergency operations);
require the pilot-in-command to proceed directly to a land base
if the sea state, at any point along the planned route, exceeds the
sea state for which the helicopter is certified for ditching;
require operators to provide an emergency underwater breathing
apparatus to each crew member and passenger on board and train them
how to use it properly; and
require all crew members to wear a water immersion survival
suit specifically designed for crew.
The two Canadian companies that provide offshore helicopter
operations off Canada's East Coast — Cougar Helicopters
and CHC Helicopter — already meet the new standards.
To review the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement and the
amendments to the CARs, click here.
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