CASA targets helicopter safety


Australia's helicopter industry will be subject to an increased level of safety surveillance by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

That was one of the key messages delivered by CASA boss, John McCormick, at a special helicopter conference earlier this month.

McCormick said CASA will also be focusing on helicopter flying training to achieve higher standards for the next generation of rotary pilots.

He said that, relative to other sectors of the aviation industry, helicopters have a higher rate of accidents. Latest statistics show helicopters make up 12 per cent of the aircraft fleet, while accounting for 25 per cent of the accidents.

"All these accidents can be prevented by improving training and concentrating on more than just the manipulative skill of the pilot," McCormick said.

CASA has observed a falling trend in the knowledge of people applying to be helicopter operation chief pilots and chief flying instructors.

Chief pilot applicants are failing prior to the actual check flight, with problems including an inability to interpret weather forecasts, poor flight planning and an inability to determine maximum take off weight.

Helicopter chief pilot applicants are typically failing in the general knowledge areas of tests.

McCormick told the Helicopter Chief Flying Instructor Conference that safety improvements must be driven by an industry with the right safety culture.

"What CASA does, particularly in relation to the helicopter sector, is to provide oversight through our network of regional offices.

"We also formed the National Helicopter office to ensure your sector received the focus and attention it needs.

"The Flying Standards branch continues with safety initiatives in the flying training sector by working with Approved Test ing Officers.

"Our Standards division is working on helicopter regulations. And, of course our safety promotion and education efforts are widespread."