I'm investigating an occurrence and would like to get a feel for how widespread a problem it is. Has anyone ever heard any tales or personally witnessed bits of helidecks coming loose as an aircraft was attempting to land on it? Did it strike the aircraft? If so, any damage worth speaking about? I'm not really interested in general FOD, snow, plastic bags or anything else that shouldn't be on the helideck in the first place. Thanks guys......
Over the years, we have experienced problems with equipment and stored scaffolding (read plywood) being blown around and overboard by the rotorwash, but the decks themselves have always held up. We have seen some pretty corroded safety nets and support structure. but they've always stayed put. I'll check around
I know the case (a long time ago) where the corroded trap-door of an old helideck hatch, collapsed under the pressure of an Alouette 3 main gear wheel. The helicopter capsized an was written off. I also remember a "welcome aboard" aluminium panel sign, flying off in a landing SA 330 damaging its tail rotor blades.... And many other various incidents alike (i.e empty drums rolling overboard in rotor downwash, torn windsock....)
From the perspective of an offshore resident, our Planned Maintenance System requires regular inspections of fixtures and fittings both on and in the vicinity of the helideck. The HLO also carries out a FOD check as well as a visual inspection of the net prior to operations, and as has already been mentioned, the whole sphere of helicopter operations is subject to a periodic audit.
I've no doubt that should a crew have any concerns about the integrity of our helideck, we'd hear about it in short order, and we have a vested interest in maintaining our primary means of getting off.
We do use CAP437 as the basis for our helideck design, inspections, etc.
The incident we had was with a deck that is designed to be removable by crane and has removable panels as part of the helideck top surface. The panels ended up being a bit too portable, but thankfully only enough to give the crew a fright.
The SMS follow up and risk assessment calls for the frequency of similar events in the industry to be established, hence the question........
I've seen pieces of the skirting flapping in my downwash, and been almost nervous enough about it to just fly away. The skirting in this case was corrugated metal. Other platforms I've seen use cyclone fencing material. If that piece had broken loose, and recirculated through the disk, we could have sustained significant blade damage.
Was transporting MMS inspectors to the platform ( GOM ). They wrote the operator up for that, and many other discrepancies on the platform.
Variable I've inspected a few hundred helidecks in my time in different parts of the world but have yet to come across a 'sectionalised helideck', presumeably with removeable deck plates. Not sure to what standard it was built to but it certainly doesn't sound like it meets the requirements of either the ICAO Heliport Manual, or, for that matter CAP 437. It doesn't look like the authors of these documents have contemplated a 'loose plated deck' so one cannot say that it is "Non Compliant" but somewhere along the line there has been a goof-up because the risk assessment conducted at the design stage should have considered the 'worst-case' downwash effects. Under JARs the helicopter operator (NOT the rig operator) is responsible for ensuring that the landing areas meets with the Helicopter Operators standards as set out in either their Vol A or Vol B or possibly their Vol C. If there is a problem then liability falls upon the helicopter operator and not the rig operator. Thats why all North Sea companies have a method for at least an annual inspection of helideck facilities. Outside the highly regulated world of Europe there can be found a motley collection of rules and regs with a similarly motley standards of regulatory oversite. My advice is 'user beware' and if you don't like it then advise the owner that ops are suspended until the problem is fixed. After any incident you will be deafened by the noise of escaping stakeholders and the slowest, most exposed and least powerful/influential party will have the Donkey's Tail pinned to their backside. For your SMS risk assessment you will just have to accept that there will be little or no other data available if the deck design is unique or nearly so. For this platform the event has already occured so the probability of it happening again on that rig is going to be high unless changes are made. If the platform is an 'import' has such an event occurrred elsewhere? Rgds G
Apropos of what G has pointed out in the above post, AMC No 2 to JAR OPS 3.220, Authorization of Heliports by the Operator-Helidecks, states that Part C of the Operations Manual in the Helideck Limitation List will show "the most recent status of each helideck concerning non-compliance with ICAO Annex 14 Volume 2, limitations, warnings, cautions or other comments of operational importance". This is tacit acknowledgement by the powers that be that not all helidecks are created equal and that the Operator can decide if the deck in question is safe to land on. They don't have to be perfect, but they shouldn't be falling apart!
Sorry guys, I've got to reign in your enthusiasm here. As previously stated the helideck is fully compliant with the requirements of CAP437 and therefore ICAO Annex 14. The deck is also not "falling apart"!
Our operation has about five landings per flight hour so the concept of the design is well proven and not in question. This is the first such incident in many, many years of operation.
It's not appropriate for me to discuss here why the panel detached as the investigation is ongoing.
Now hopefully we can return back to my original question........