background image





Special Operations

Section 2. Special Operations


−2−1. Offshore Helicopter Operations

a. Introduction

The offshore environment offers unique applications
and challenges for helicopter pilots. The mission
demands, the nature of oil and gas exploration and
production facilities, and the flight environment
(weather, terrain, obstacles, traffic), demand special
practices, techniques and procedures not found in
other flight operations. Several industry
organizations have risen to the task of reducing
risks in offshore operations, including the Heli-
copter Safety Advisory Conference (HSAC)

), and the Offshore Committee

of the Helicopter Association International (HAI)

). The following recommended

practices for offshore helicopter operations are based
on guidance developed by HSAC for use in the Gulf
of Mexico, and provided here with their permission.
While not regulatory, these recommended practices
provide aviation and oil and gas industry operators
with useful information in developing procedures to
avoid certain hazards of offshore helicopter opera-


Like all aviation practices, these recommended practices
are under constant review. In addition to normal
procedures for comments, suggested changes, or correc-
tions to the AIM (contained in the Preface), any questions
or feedback concerning these recommended procedures
may also be directed to the HSAC through the feedback
feature of the HSAC website (


b. Passenger Management on and about

Heliport Facilities

1. Background.

Several incidents involving

offshore helicopter passengers have highlighted the
potential for incidents and accidents on and about the
heliport area. The following practices will minimize
risks to passengers and others involved in heliport

2. Recommended Practices


Heliport facilities should have a desig-

nated and posted passenger waiting area which is
clear of the heliport, heliport access points, and


Arriving passengers and cargo should be

unloaded and cleared from the heliport and access
route prior to loading departing passengers and cargo.


Where a flight crew consists of more than

one pilot, one crewmember should supervise the
unloading/loading process from outside the aircraft.


Where practical, a designated facility

employee should assist with loading/unloading, etc.

c. Crane

−Helicopter Operational Procedures

1. Background.

Historical experience has

shown that catastrophic consequences can occur
when industry safe practices for crane/helicopter
operations are not observed. The following recom-
mended practices are designed to minimize risks
during crane and helicopter operations.

2. Recommended Practices

(a) Personnel awareness


Crane operators and pilots should

develop a mutual understanding and respect of the
others’ operational limitations and cooperate in the
spirit of safety;


Pilots need to be aware that crane

operators sometimes cannot release the load to cradle
the crane boom, such as when attached to wire line
lubricators or supporting diving bells; and


Crane operators need to be aware that

helicopters require warm up before takeoff, a

−minute cool down before shutdown, and cannot

circle for extended lengths of time because of fuel


It is recommended that when helicopters

are approaching,  maneuvering, taking off, or running
on the heliport, cranes be shutdown and the operator
leave the cab. Cranes not in use must have their
booms cradled, if feasible. If in use, the crane’s
boom(s) are to be pointed away from the heliport and
the crane shutdown for helicopter operations.


Pilots will not approach, land on, takeoff,

or have rotor blades turning on heliports of structures
not complying with the above practice.