IOGP urges use of new helicopter terrain avoidance warning system

A letter to all IOGP member representatives and industry colleagues has urged support for a helicopter safety enhancement in the form of a Helicopter Terrain Avoidance Warning System (HTAWS). IOGP was an early supporter of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s HTAWS Research Project, which began more than ten years ago.

As described in their letter by IOGP Aviation Subcommittee Chair Steve Hawkes and IOGP Executive Director Gordon Ballard, the basis of the research project was that ‘the flight envelopes originally used for helicopter terrain awareness and warning purposes were fixed wing aircraft algorithms transferred to helicopter operating environments with slight variations.’ Recent incidents have demonstrated that there was clear scope to enhance existing systems ‘to reduce the probability of controlled flight into terrain or loss of control,’ the letter explains. Using operators’ flight data management data to form an evidence-based approach, the project has completed its first phase. During the past two years, IOGP has joined forces with HeliOffshore to bring this progress to the attention of regulators, manufacturers and helicopter operators and users.

The IOGP letter goes on to request that ‘Members support this safety enhancement with the understanding that they will share a portion of the cost with their aircraft operators and manufacturers in order to improve safety.’ IOGP anticipates that the updated systems ‘will be introduced through aircraft service bulletins that cover the installation of HTAWS software and hardware changes required.’

Meanwhile, ‘in order for IOGP Members and aircraft operators to understand the cost and begin planning for aircraft modifications,’ IOGP has asked that manufacturers of equipment and aircraft provide estimated costs and implementation plans as soon as possible.

The letter in full is available here.

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