Helicopter reaches new heights with tablet technology

Will Hanekom with the ipad system (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)
Will Hanekom with the ipad system (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)
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A substitute for time-consuming paperwork has proved its worth for North Sea helicopter pilots who are reaping the benefits of a faster, more efficient online system.

CHC Helicopter has replaced paper documents with an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) for pilots – the first of its kind used by a North Sea helicopter operator.

CHC iPad app''(Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

CHC iPad app''(Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

The tablet device hosts pilots’ logs, flight procedures and a variety of other documents which pilots call upon when planning and then flying to different locations and platforms.

Mark Abbey, CHC’s regional director for West North Sea, said: “As manufacturers continue to develop ever-more sophisticated aircraft, CHC is raising industry standards by investing in the tools, systems and processes that mean we continue to deliver safe and reliable services for our passengers and customers.

“Operations become more efficient, the customer experience is enhanced, and safety—primary to CHC’s purpose—is taken to new heights.”

The EFB system puts flight information right at the fingertips of CHC crews, reducing cockpit workload and creating a safe flight environment for passengers.

By using the specially-configured iPads, CHC pilots can access approach plates, rig certification data and weather information, as well as electronic operation and safety manuals.

The crew record flight information on the iPads – take-off and landing times, fuel consumption and payload – and this is then automatically downloaded after each flight.

Will Hanekom, deputy chief pilot at CHC Helicopter’s Aberdeen base, said: “We can very quickly reference manuals for a variety of purposes, including weather, rig layout and destinations. We also have all the approach plates in case we are re-routed for anyreason. This ultimately increases pilot efficiency and increases safety.

“Historically, every base or every area of operation worldwide would have its own software so a lot of effort would be spent training for specific software. Now, we are seeing something we expect and are familiar with, so our efficiency and safety margins increase.

“It’s very important that we have the best software in the cockpit in order to reduce the pilots’ workload, therefore allowing us to focus on the passengers and taking them to and from the rig safely, which is our number one priority.”

Last year, CHC carried more than 140,000 people on around 9,000 flights from its base in Aberdeen.

Worldwide, the company carried more than one million passengers to and from their offshore workplaces in 2015. The helicopters are modified and maintained by a skilled group of engineers to operate at the highest levels of safety and performance in the North Sea.