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Helicopter Offshore Operations (HOFO) - CRD 2013-10

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Helicopter Offshore Operations (HOFO) - CRD 2013-10

Old 25th Oct 2014, 14:11
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Helicopter Offshore Operations (HOFO) - CRD 2013-10

Hello!

It has been quite silent regarding the EASA Helicopter Offshore Operations regulation on this forum. What is the common opinion about the new EASA regulation latest issued as CRD 2013-10?
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Old 28th Oct 2014, 21:32
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Hi Tomcat01

In general it is very quiet on this forum regarding NPAs and CRDs. I'm not sure why, but the documents are often complex and demanding to understand for the public.

However there have been several important and significant rulemakings lately which will affect the industry and the people in it significantly. The CRD you are asking for is together with EC1008/2008 the most significant and controversial change I know of so far. It will replace all of the current national OPS regulation, including the requirement to hold an AOC in the actual state you are operating. How this will affect the industry is unknown, but it will sideline national safety efforts like CAP 1145, the current ongoing UK safety study, and national safety steering groups. If the regulation is implemented as proposed in the CRD, operators from any EU state will be able to operate on the UK continental shelf with no supervision or oversight from the UK CAA.

I don't know what the common opinion is, but I am surprised the NPA/CRD had very few comments from the affected community and that it has gotten no attention on this forum.
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Old 30th Oct 2014, 07:42
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You are totally correct! And it worries me that there is so few comments posted to the NPA, regarding this regulation. I hope the relevant stakeholders have been informed and are able to post comments to the CRD by now.
As we have seen from the Norwegian Helicopter Safety Study-3 and the Safety report (HC 289) in UK, they both recommend national oversight from the NAA where the operation actually commences.
In HSS-3, currents threats to safety, for the current period is identified.

“According to the report, the most important potential threats for helicopter safety in the period 2010–2019 are considered to be:

— lack of the possibility to maintain established Norwegian additional requirements
for offshore flights, or that it will not be possible to introduce new requirements adapted to the conditions on NCS;

— exemption from offshore special requirements and deviation from recommended guidelines;

— unwanted consequences from changes implemented by helicopter operators and other players in this area;

— reduced competence among technicians and pilots in helicopter companies due to retirement of existing personnel;

— lack of competence and resources regarding offshore helicopters in CAA-N; and

— too much focus on cost and revenues by the different players on NCS.”


These threats are directly transferred to the NPA text, but there are very few preventive measures in the new regulation text, to mitigate those threats. In fact, by adopting the new regulation (for countries with well established national regulation, like UK and Norway), almost all these threats may become reality.

As well, EASA seems to disregard most of the important comments from the national regulatory bodies, in favour of level-playing field, free movement of services and mutual exeptance of NAA's, in relation to performance of oversight and in the approval process to obtain an AOC or SPA.
By only asking one single question;

Question 2.12.1
Operator XYZ holds an offshore approval from MS A. Operator XYZ has one of its main activities in MS B.
Do stakeholders and NAAs see it as beneficial to introduce a regulatory requirement for operator XYZ to inform MS B before engaging into offshore operations from that MS?
Please justify your answer.


If the scenario will end up in a requirement of just giving information about the operations, unlike a full approval process, we should be deeply worried about how the NAA can be able to perform proper oversight of operations.

Last edited by Tomcat01; 2nd Nov 2014 at 21:47.
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Old 28th Sep 2015, 09:58
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I hear the proposed HOFO regulation is creating an outrage in Norway, and I found these articles on the net:

OFFSHORE HELIKOPTERSIKKERHET - Dette bildet får det til å gå kaldt nedover ryggen på norsk offshorenæring

-Nytt EU-regelverk vil svekke helikoptersikkerheten ?

Could someone please help translate, and why is it quiet regarding this new regulation in the UK?

If this change means heli operators from any EU state may start operations in the UK, will it be the end of UK operators? What about the good old CAA, will they be cut off from issuing approvals and keeping oversight?
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Old 28th Sep 2015, 15:52
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Here are the translations:

https://translate.google.com/transla...-text=&act=url

and;

https://translate.google.com/transla...-text=&act=url

As you might see, there is a general fear in Norway to loose control over the operations. I think your question for the CAA and UK control is very central for the british operations as well.
The current opinion from EASA states that only information is needed before starting cross-boarder operations, to the competent authorities of both countries.
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Old 29th Sep 2015, 09:02
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I think the real issue is that the nations operating large scale in the North Sea have built up years of experience in operating in a very specialist environment and have evolved operations to this environment. The main operators are today very safe and have a very high level of competence that should not be taken for granted. A safety and reporting culture and network that extends beyond just the crews and operators. All are involved. Operators work together and have good dialogue together to enhance and promote the safest possible practice. Furthermore direct lines of communication are open with the CAA, Offshore Unions and customers and all other agencies. The risk is that by opening the skies to the anyone with a european AOC we are wiping clean years of development and experience and greatly reducing the levels of supervision and monitoring that gives the high levels of safety we have today. I do not think it is over dramatic to say that this is in direct conflict with much of the safety recommendations and directives that have been promulgated and discussed in the last few years. I am in no doubt that this will lead to are far less controlled and inherently more unsafe method of operating in the offshore environments of the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, and Arctic/Barents Oceans. Effectively there is nothing stopping an individual customer hiring a company from Hungary with no offshore experience, coastline or local knowledge, an unknown and unchecked safety and training programme operating in an entirely unfamiliar environment, to transport said customers passengers in Norway. I mean no disrespect to Hungary. It could be any other nation, but the point is the knowledge base is present and best in the operating countries own operators. They know the environment, culture, language, challenges and pitfalls through many years of learning. This cannot be transferred overnight. This will almost certainly be driven by price and in todays environment of cost cutting how far will they go in further cutting best and safe practice? Once it starts it will be increasingly difficult for the major operating companies to continue to conduct business with the present day safety culture. I am astounded by EASA and European naivety and over simplistic views. After the last accident in the North Sea many new directives and recommendations were suggested and undoubtedly lessons were learnt. EASA seems to have very little concern for this and is in many ways seeking to directly oppose all the progress that has been made in the last few years. The race to the bottom is in its warm up phase. If we let it go ahead, the whistle is blown and there is only one way to go. The days of an expected level safe transport for offshore workers will be over for good.
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Old 30th Sep 2015, 10:54
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Interesting words, 26500lbs. In the article it seems like the Norwegian CAA is not concerned about the change, while the industry and the passengers are. CAA Norway expressed "will not be so much changed from today and would not think so much about the consequences."???

Not supprisingly our CAA are worried, but if desiered, will they be capable of stopping this deregulation? It is also interesting that the offshore workers unions in Norway are on the ball, while I can not remember to have seen anything from RMT or Unite here in the UK.
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Old 30th Sep 2015, 16:07
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Whether or not the CAA’s can stop it, I am unsure. At the end of the day if it goes through it will be the customers who decide. I think it is unlikely we will see complete new start-ups appearing en-masse, but what i expect will happen is that for the large operators in Norway and the UK will move their AOC’s and therefore be able to “relieve” themselves of the local employment rules and conventions to a more “suitable” country. This will likely mean large pay-cuts and new working conditions and contracts. This will allow the larger companies to maintain their stake on the ground, but pretty much in name only. The operations will shift to a global type of operation with employees effectively on touring rosters. Pilots Unions will effectively be brushed aside in one stroke of a pen by the CAA’s, and they will have little to no say after as to the working conditions in individual operating countries. In the case of CHC or Bristow, it makes it quite possible for all of the pilots to be re-employed in their global operations on new contracts the day after. The local AOC will be shut down and effectively cease to exist. Everyone fired on monday and re-hired on tuesday with a new contract, take it or leave it. Seniority will have nothing to do with it. 2 years ago this would have sounded ludicrous but now it is probably not so far from reality. There will be pros and cons. Pros are that most will remain employed. Operations will be more streamlined with far less administration. Probably pilots will be able to remain with the same company and possibly the same base. Cons are that pay and roster will change dramatically, with considerably lower pay, pension, insurance, welfare, sick pay, especially of the employer is no longer bound by national employment law. All of the power moves to the employer and away from the union, effectively giving them far more control of who they hire and fire and how much notice they will be required to give. It is inevitable and the only way they are likely to survive and remain competitive if this all goes forward and the customers do not step in. Time will tell and it will be interesting to see how it all unwinds. It is certainly not a simple and straight forward as the CAA’s like to perceive. I am in absolutely now way convinced that this will have anything but a negative effect on overall safety.
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Old 30th Sep 2015, 21:44
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For point of clarification the HOFO is relevant to NPA 2013-10 which is an amendment to what appears to be a foregone conclusion of Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012, which will effectively take the issuance of specific AOC away from member states and responsibility for issuance to EASA. The current NPA for HOFO is how best to employ this whilst maintaining level standards of safety. 3 options are available. 0, 1, and 2. 0 is do nothing and allow varying standards across the EASA states and 1 and 2 allow for member states to apply further requirements. Most likely 1 or 2 will be selected, but the point that is blankly passed over is that it allows for any AOC to operate anywhere as long as it meets the set standard. Option 2 reflects the current N. Sea operations.
The entire directive focusses solely on theoretical safety standards being documented and shown. Despite the social and economic aspect being stated in the study, it is passed off as being negligible. I cannot forsee the effect as being negligible if operators are given free reign to move AOCs to another land for economic gain and as a loophole around national employment law. It opens the door for pilots to be employed in a state, work in another but without the industrial protection they are afforded today. A point I see no reference to in the entire document. The european idea of a level playing field is great in theory but the point remains and will do for the foreseeable future that living conditions and costs vary greatly throughout the EU. With all the condemnation of Ryanair and Norwegian for social dumping and allowing the (mis)use of contract pilots and atrocious working conditions, is EASA not now further facilitating this?
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Old 1st Oct 2015, 09:04
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I think the national authorities are still responsible for issuing AOCs to operators within their territory. The change is that any national regulation (typically based on JAR OPS various amendment status) has been replaced by the hard rules from EASA. Operators with these new AOCs may operate domestic flights within any other EU state. Until HOFO is implemented, EU states may continue with national regulations for offshore helicopter operation as a derogation under Article 6(4) of the cover regulation to 965/2012.
HOFO will create an new subpart in Part SPA, and remove this derogation.
I am uncertain about when this will hit us, but it appears to be soon. The EASA opinion is at the EU commission, and below is some links to more info:

Opinion: Opinion 04/2015 | EASA

NPA: NPA 2013-10 | EASA

CRD: CRD 2013-10 | EASA

TOR and GC: ToR OPS.093 (a) & (b) (RMT.0409 & RMT.0410) | EASA
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Old 3rd Oct 2015, 19:32
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There is an overwhelming amount of information in these documents, but in short, you only need to note the following in the opinion:

Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 is amended as follows:
(2) In Article 6 ‘Derogations’, paragraph 4 is deleted:
Meaning any national regulation is replaced by EASA regulation. For the UK CAP will be history.

SPA.HOFO.105 Approval for helicopter offshore operations
(c) The operator shall, prior to performing operations from a Member State other than the Member State that issued the approval under (a), inform the competent authorities in both Member States of the intended operation.
Meaning operators form any EU state may commence operation to and from the UK continental shelf after only notifying UK CAA. UK CAA will be unable to approve and perform any oversight of the operation, except from performing ramp checks.
There are no competence requirements for the authority issuing the SPA.
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Old 5th Oct 2015, 17:26
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I'm way out of my league here, being only a nocive recreational pilot, but wouldn't pouring the well developed UK-CAA and Norwegian regulations and requirements regarding safe Notth Sea operations into mandatory EASA ruling solve part of the issue?

That way compliance with the high off shore standards would be mandated for all EU Operators, moving around AOCs won't change anything and the free markte advocates won't be able to complain. Win-win, sortof.
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Old 5th Oct 2015, 20:25
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Despite the noise about safety standards, etc from 26500, the reality is that Norway and Denmark have continued to operate a 'closed shop' policy towards other EU operators. This will come to an end under HOFO!
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 09:44
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Reely340

If it was that easy, why is the UK accident statistics significantly higher than the Norwegian, while the UK CAP is more stringent than the Norwegian BSL?

VL

Interesting point of view from someone like you. Are the UK different from the closed shops you are referring too? Last I checked it was the same, and after implementations of recommendations from CAP 1145, I think UK seem to have an even closer shop. I agree that this may end after HOFO, but most people with any knowledge of the offshore helicopter industry safety, think it will affect the safety level in the closed shops negative.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 14:24
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Hi Pi1ot

The UK CAA and government have previously welcomed Offshore operators from Norway, Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium; and continue to do so. All conducting 'cabotage' flights from UK airports to installations and vessels in UK waters.


VL
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Old 7th Oct 2015, 14:58
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Hi VL

I have tried to look into this, but I am unable to find this opening in the regulation. I know there used to be a bilateral agreement with the Netherlands allowing such operations, but any help to find it will be appreciated.

It would also be helpful if you could link to the regulation, or official statements which you refer to, regarding welcoming cabotage flights.

My understanding is that operators from these countries have been on a wet lease for UK operators.
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Old 8th Oct 2015, 11:08
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I don't think there is anything in the public domain regarding permissions.

I can state categorically that the non-UK operators have been operating under their own AOCs and not under a wet lease arrangement. Possible exceptions are NHS and Bond in Aberdeen, as well as CHC NL operating in the UK.
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Old 5th Nov 2015, 16:07
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have no fear.......
“For the last 18 months the CAA has been actively engaged with pilots, operators and other industry bodies in a major initiative that has delivered significant safety improvements for North Sea helicopter operations.”
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