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Special Operations

Section 2. Special Operations

10−2−1. 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

(a) Heliport facilities should have a desig-

nated and posted passenger waiting area which is

clear of the heliport, heliport access points, and


(b) Arriving passengers and cargo should be

unloaded and cleared from the heliport and access

route prior to loading departing passengers and cargo.

(c) Where a flight crew consists of more than

one pilot, one crewmember should supervise the

unloading/loading process from outside the aircraft.

(d) 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

(1) Crane operators and pilots should

develop a mutual understanding and respect of the

others’ operational limitations and cooperate in the

spirit of safety;

(2) 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

(3) Crane operators need to be aware that

helicopters require warm up before takeoff, a

two−minute cool down before shutdown, and cannot

circle for extended lengths of time because of fuel


(b) 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.

(c) Pilots will not approach, land on, takeoff,

or have rotor blades turning on heliports of structures

not complying with the above practice.