Helicopter lands on wrong North Sea platform - AAIB investigation

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CharlieOneSix
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Helicopter lands on wrong North Sea platform - AAIB investigation

#1 Post by CharlieOneSix » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:28 pm

Catching up after a week away from the forum...

Lots of safety implications here. Was the platform venting flammable gas - not healthy if you fly through it! Was a crane operating - awkward if it swings into the rotors whilst you are landing. Is there a Radhaz issue on board at that time - not good if a helicopter arrives belting out radar pulses until short final. Is there another helicopter on deck with its anti-collision lights off whilst loading/unloading/refuelling - sounds impossible but I'm aware of one occasion in poor weather where that kind of accident almost happened.

Bristow helicopter lands on wrong offshore platform

There are those that have done it, those that will do it and those who have nearly done it. I'm not quite in the latter category. Back in the early 80's when we had VLF/Omega as our nav aid offshore it was quite usual for your position to be at least a mile out when you arrived in the destination area.

On this particular day there were four semi-submersible rigs all within a small area. I approached one to identify it before calling for deck clearance, only to be tapped on the shoulder by a grinning pax who pointed over to the correct destination. It wasn't the only time that VLF/Omega caused a destination query - not helped by the fact that rig NDB frequency allocation was limited and it was quite usual for all rigs/platforms in an offshore field to have the same frequency. They should only be turned on when expecting a helicopter but sod's law said someone wouldn't turn theirs off and woe betide you if you didn't listen very carefully to the ident as even those could be very similar.

The solution to wrong deck landings? Red/green deck edge lights. Helo requests deck clearance, HLO switches deck lights to green. When helo departs HLO switches deck edge lights to red. Simple. I think it was 1985 when I suggested that at a meeting with our clients. Others have said the same since.

As far as I am aware it has never happened as it would cost the clients money. Safety should have no cost barrier.
The helicopter pilots' mantra: If it hasn't gone wrong then it's just about to...

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Re: Helicopter lands on wrong North Sea platform - AAIB investigation

#2 Post by FD2 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:30 pm

C16 - agree that's the best solution.

NUIs are monitored and controlled by the parent platforms so I can see no problem for part of that monitoring system to be remote control of the red/green light system. HLO to control them otherwise.

If the platform is powerless e.g. due to generator malfunction then it can safely be left until daylight for a landing to be made - it's a commercial matter then. I don't think a crew that has been briefed that the platform is without power would make a daylight landing on the wrong one if the deck is free of bird *sh*t* and properly marked with identifying letters.

Some NUIs got covered in *sh*t* in no time as they were roosting sites for hundreds of shitehawks, but that was fixable by more cleaning and installing scaring systems. A typical oil company 'initiative' down south was to put plastic owls around the deck edge. Seagulls, not being scared by or familiar with owls, sat on and shat on them at will.

Wrong deck landings occurred at least three times in the companies I worked for in the SNS. One was due to too much yacking and inattention; the second to a smart arse who enjoyed showing off and wazzing the aircraft around rather than thinking and the third was due to fatigue - the pilot concerned was given a very strong warning about his personal sleeping habits and partying the night before an 'Early'! I don't know about wrong deck landings from the other two companies which were operating in the SNS at the time.

Sometimes the HLO needs a good bollocking for giving clearance to a machine which is clearly not approaching his deck! Wasn't it a deck 'clearance' rather than a 'landing' clearance anyway?

Oil companies often pay lip service to 'safety' by concentrating their attention on silly things rather than important matters - for example always keeping one hand free when walking down stairs (quite important) rather than installing a system to prevent wrong deck landings (extremely important, but costly)....

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Re: Helicopter lands on wrong North Sea platform - AAIB investigation

#3 Post by CharlieOneSix » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:30 am

FD2 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:30 pm
........Some NUIs got covered in *sh*t* in no time as they were roosting sites for hundreds of shitehawks, but that was fixable by more cleaning and installing scaring systems. A typical oil company 'initiative' down south was to put plastic owls around the deck edge. Seagulls, not being scared by or familiar with owls, sat on and shat on them at will.......
When it reached the end of its life the 36/22 pumping station on the Ekofisk-Teeside pipeline was decommissioned. We used to go out on day trips from ABZ with a load of guys who were dismantling reusable bits of kit - a long transit for a short day's work. As the 36/22 had become a NUI by default the deck was absolutely covered in shitehawk droppings. No HLO or scaring systems of course so the buggers had to be scared off by us as we approached and then they shat all over the helicopter as it sat there for the day.

That was not a pleasant series of days out. The flight plan had to be closed by an unreliable satellite phone, there was no electricity on board so no heating and this was towards the end of winter. We two pilots took our own drinks and food plus sleeping bags in case the 214ST wouldn't start come the time to depart from ABZ and we'd have to stay the night. On one trip the wind got up more than forecast and was approaching the 50kt limit for starting rotors. I called a halt to the work on board and we got ready to leave. Whilst the co-pilot loaded passengers one 'kind' passenger held my pilot's door open for me as I climbed in to the cockpit but the wind took it from him and it smashed into my shoulder. Over the following weeks that resulted in an inability to raise my arm to reach the roof panel switches and intense pain. A rotating cuff operation on my shoulder meant 4 months off work. That arm has always remained weak. No, I didn't enjoy that 36/22 task.
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Re: Helicopter lands on wrong North Sea platform - AAIB investigation

#4 Post by FD2 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:25 am

There were some unmanned platforms operated by British Aerospace for monitoring intercepts above the Southern North Sea. As they were operated remotely they were not visited routinely, just when something malfunctioned or occasional maintenance. You can imagine the state of the platform after weeks of no flights - just like a guano covered nesting site and the stink was amazing. The aircraft had to be taken out of service for cleaning when we got back to base as lots of shite was tramped into the cabin (and cockpit) - it couldn't be avoided - and the smell lingered. Surprisingly there wasn't much competition between companies for those flights!

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