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HeliOffshore Workshops Support Operators Preparing to Adopt the Safety Benefits of EBT

March 13, 2019

HeliOffshore recently held the first in a series of workshops to enhance awareness and understanding of the safety benefits of Evidence-based Training (EBT). These are part of a data-driven initiative to support helicopter operators wanting to give their flight crew the most appropriate training, based on their actual level of experience and operational circumstances.

Members of HeliOffshore’s Operational Effectiveness workstream have been advocating for the adoption of EBT by regulators by contributing to the European Aviation Safety Agency’s RMT.0599 Helicopter Working Group. The group is developing the regulatory pathway to EASA adopting EBT as the foundation for training requirements.

While this process continues, HeliOffshore is urging operators to take a proactive approach by introducing a Competency-based Training and Assessment (CBTA) element to their current training programme. This approach is complimentary to current training regulations and will also be a prerequisite for the new EBT rules that are anticipated in the next 18 to 24 months. Moving ahead with developing and implementing CBTA will shorten the lead time for adopting EBT.

The first workshop, held on 18th and 19th December, was run by training consultancy Greenstone Starling. It was kindly hosted by HeliOffshore member FlightSafety International (FSI) at its Learning Centre at Farnborough in the UK.

Participants were briefed on various topics identified by HeliOffshore workstream members who have contributed to the RMT.0599 Helicopter Working Group. The group is developing the regulatory pathway to enable offshore helicopter operators to adopt an EBT approach to pilot training. Topics covered included: the history of EBT, the philosophy and principles of EBT, the theory of CBTA, adult learning processes, programme design, development and use of grading systems, instructor standardisation, and the use of data generated from EBT programmes.

The workshop also was designed to introduce new training subject matter experts to the concept of EBT to prepare them to join the RMT.0599 Helicopter Working Group effort in 2019 and develop a Baseline Programme for offshore and search and rescue helicopters. “The workshop delivered exactly what we were looking for and provided the relevant background for the new participants, whilst supporting enthusiastic discussion with all attendees,” commented Bristow Group’s Director Safety (EAMEA) and Global Safety Assurance, Tim Rolfe, who chairs the HWG and co-lead of HeliOffshore’s Operational Effectiveness workstream.

Babcock MCS Training Manager and RMT.0599-member, Peter Bakke, commented: “As we address this significant shift in thinking on crew training programmes, providing forums to explore the core philosophy and reflect on the potential challenges presents the offshore helicopter community with a tremendous opportunity to develop and deliver a standardised approach to EBT that will ultimately benefit us all, operators, customers and regulators alike.”

Delivery of the workshop was shared by GreenstoneStarling’s co-directors, Captain Phil Cullen and Dr Sarah Flaherty. “It was a pleasure working with the workshop attendees and sharing our learnings gained through similar work in the fixed-wing community,” said Captain Cullen. “The group’s enthusiasm was obvious and was indicative of the great opportunity for the helicopter operators to capitalise on and gain the benefits that EBT is already bringing to airline operators.”

“Increasingly, competency-based Training and Assessment programmes are being introduced in many safety-critical industries and, whilst the regulation allowing helicopter operators to apply for an EBT programme approval from their Competent Authority may be one to two years away, all operators would benefit in the interim from developing a deeper understanding of the principles and advantages of CBTA,” added Dr Flaherty.

Workshop attendees included Bristow Group’s Dave Denman and Geir-Arne Karlsen, Babcock MCS’ Simon Fielding and Hucon Global’s Tor Krokstad. They all will join the EASA HWG in April to begin work on the development of a Baseline Programme. All agreed that the workshop was worthwhile and has helped to set the framework for the rule-making task ahead.

“We are very happy to play a part in this important learning and awareness exercise and enjoyed working with a number of our HeliOffshore colleagues,” said FSI’s S92 Programme Manager, Rick Dooley.

HeliOffshore has committed to supporting further workshops in the early part of 2019 with the same aim of supporting training experts who have an interest in joining the Baseline Programme development effort. “Whilst the rule-making is currently EASA-centric, we welcome interest from non-European members as it is hoped that FAA and other authorities will follow in due course’, said Mr Rolfe.

The case for EBT has been strongly supported by eye-tracking research conducted by HeliOffshore members. Flight instructors and examiners are now being consulted on the findings from this work.

Dates for future workshops will be communicated to HeliOffshore members directly in 2019 and will also be posted at HeliOffshore.org.