From a national/international legislative perspective, regulatory authorities have lagged behind with the implementation of offshore Helideck and onshore HLS (Helicopter Landing Site) legislative requirements. In addition, many national regulatory controls, as defined by Civil Aviation Authorities Part 139 (Aerodromes), either exclude helidecks/heliports or in some cases fail to adequately cover the requirements.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has established international Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for the safe conduct of Civil Aviation operations in the Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago, 1944). The following Annex is applicable to Helicopter Landing Sites:
Annex 14: Aerodromes - Volume II: Heliports
Further guidance on the design of heliports is provided in ICAO's Heliport Manual (Doc. No. 9261-AN/903).
Signatories to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, have undertaken to apply the ICAO SARPs, except where specific differences have been notified to ICAO.
Most countries have undertaken not to fully apply the ICAO SARPS and therefore it is mandatory for these countries to file differences and in most instances the following wording applies:
[Country] does not regulate the design and operation of helidecks/heliports. If the owner/operator of a helideck/heliport intends to develop and operate a helideck/heliport for the purpose of regular public transport or charter operations, they are referred to the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices set out in Annex 14 Volume II.
The new version of CAP 437 (Edition 8 December 2016)
, a direct derivative of ANNEX 14 VOL II, has just been issued with significant changes, such as an annual requirement for friction testing.
Also of significance is a clear-cut statement on Page 278 of CAP 437 that states:
The legal acceptance for the safety of landing sites rests with the helicopter operator.
The responsibility to accept the safety of the landing site now lies directly with the Operator and Pilot-in-Command, as analysis and interpretation of ANNEX 14 VOL II and CAP 437, a direct derivative of ANNEX 14 VOL II, clearly outlines.
The alternative, with nations enforcing a regulatory regime, has yet to be defined.
Serious incidents have previously occurred when unqualified personnel have signed-off on helidecks that are not CAP 437 compliant. Costly mistakes can be prevented, and safety enhanced, by having all relevant personnel trained by experienced Helideck Inspection Trainers.
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