Bristow Helicopters is claiming a helicopter safety aviation world first. It says a Super Puma, operated by Bristow Eastern Hemisphere, made history when it left Aberdeen airport in the U.K. with a pioneering warning system on board.
John Cloggie, director of European operations for Bristow Helicopters in Aberdeen, says a collaboration between Bristow, Rockwell Collins and Shell saw the world's first passenger flight of a helicopter take to the air fitted with collision avoidance technology of the same standard as those used on fixed wing aircraft.
Bristow's Helicopters worked alongside Rockwell Collins with the assistance of Shell Aircraft to install, test and certify TCAS II on the AS332L that serviced several Shell installations in the East Shetland Basin.
Cloggie says: "TCAS II is more usually found on jet and turboprop aircraft. It is an onboard collision avoidance system which is a significant technical improvement over the equipment that is fitted to some other helicopters. It provides clear collision avoidance instructions to the pilots of the helicopter when it detects nearby aircraft that could be a safety hazard.
"The system, which is new for helicopters, works by interrogating the air traffic control transponders of other nearby aircraft to determine and display their relative altitudes and positions. The TCAS II computer then uses sophisticated techniques to calculate the speed, direction and potential collision hazard that these aircraft create for the helicopter pilot. It computes and displays a recommended avoidance manoeuvre for the pilot to ensure safe separation from the other aircraft."
TCAS II has been fitted to helicopters currently flying on routes from Aberdeen to oil installations in the North Sea. Cloggie says: "It was commonly believed in aviation circles that the application of the fixed wing standard for collision avoidance systems would not be possible on helicopters because of their speed and flight profiles. Our team, together with Rockwell Collins and with the support of Shell, successfully met that challenge and have created a system which is a world first. We are committed to investment in systems such as this as part of our company's ongoing commitment to enhance the safety of the many thousands of passengers we transport offshore each year in support of the oil and gas industry."
Denny Helgeson, vp and gm business and regional systems, Rockwell Collins, says: "We feel that the benefits this brings will be appreciated by helicopter operators worldwide and we look forward to our continued work with Bristow and Shell."