|Helicopters Committee (HEL)|
The active members of today’s Committee come from associations representing Helicopter Operations from around the world.
The IFALPA Helicopter Committee focuses on rotary wing related matters and advises the Executive Board on these issues. In addition, the committee works in co-operation with the other standing committees of the Federation. Commercial Helicopter operations around the world cover a wide variety tasks from sightseeing, flight training and corporate work to the more challenging advanced aerial work (under slung loads, offshore and onshore personnel, cargo transport, emergency medical services, search & rescue operations). Unlike airline operations helicopter pilots are often widely dispersed around the globe with companies flying smaller fleets (typically one to five aircraft).
Helicopter Accident Level
Although the accident level in helicopter transportation is difficult to define in general terms, the accident rates between the different types of operations vary widely from the safest – at present Offshore oil & gas transport in the Northern North and Norwegian Seas, to the most accident prone – aerial work often involving under slung loads, crop spraying & power line repair( although, inexplicably, these activities are not defined as commercial work in a number of international regulations). The rate is significantly higher than found in fixed wing operations. Among the reasons for this disparity identified by the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHEST) are a lack of training, a poor safety culture and poor management.
While the pilots employed by the larger helicopter operations in North America and Europe are aware of the work of pilot associations in the improvement of air safety as well as terms and conditions, to the majority of Helicopter pilots around the this work remains a mystery. Likewise, the management at a number of smaller operators often view pilot associations with a mixture of mistrust and distain. They often forget that the associations often have the same goal, helping to create successful, stable companies with strong safety records. The input of pilots brings a reality and balance to the process of creating regulations – (a process much fraught with political and economic pressures) and therefore that voice is vital in the formulation of regulations that will be workable, economically viable and, most importantly, deliver meaningful improvement to air safety.
The work of the committee has been focused on ICAO in support of IFALPA’s representation on the Air Navigation Commission. In addition, the committee has also worked with the JAA in an attempt to improve the regulations for helicopters covered in Joint Aviation Regulation (JAR) Part 3. Notable successes in this have included improvement in the regulations relating to: