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Flying Over Rough Seas to Stop

The offshore industry in Canada has been under tremendous pressure to revise its helicopter flight policies after the tragic offshore helicopter crash in 2009 that killed 17 oil rig workers. An association of offshore companies in that country has announced that it will stop helicopter flights over rough seas.

The helicopter crash involved a Cougar helicopter that went down off the coast of Newfoundland, killing 17 workers. Since then, the offshore helicopter industry in Canada has been under pressure from offshore safety groups and maritime attorneys, to show some progress towards the safety of the oil rig workers who travel on these flights every day.

Last week, the Canada Transportation Safety Board presented its report into the tragedy. The Transportation Safety Board recommended that helicopters refrain from flying over rough waters, if their floatation system is not sufficient. According to Transportation Safety Board Chief Wendy Tadros, a helicopter should not be operating if the sea state is too rough for a successful emergency landing.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has heeded the Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations.  The Association announced that Newfoundland’s three offshore operators-Terra Nova, White Rose and Hibernia – would implement the Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations. According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers helicopters that are equipped with enhanced flotation equipment will only fly when offshore sea states are 6 m or less.  Helicopters with adequate flotation equipment will only fly when offshore sea states are 4 m or less.

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