Are superyacht crews sufficiently trained to tackle the accidents that may occur as a result of helicopter operations? Fortunately, instances of helicopter accidents are few and far between on board superyachts, however, assuming that accidents won’t happen does not constitute an appropriate plan of action. On Wednesday 1 March, SuperyachtNews travelled to Dover to take part in day two of the new MCA-approved Large Yacht Helideck Safety Training Course, courtesy of Superyacht Aviation Support & Training.

“The capabilities for helicopter operations on board superyachts is considerable - and growing - but awareness and training has not kept pace,” explains Gareth Ross of Superyacht Aviation Support & Training. “Our aim is to encourage education across the fleet, from the captains down to the deckhands, through a standardised syllabus that can create a level playing field.”

The Large Yacht Helicopter Safety Training Courses cover helideck procedures & emergency response, helideck firefighting and helicopter landing officer (HLO) training, each with its own individual certification.

“We are now starting to see insurers, as a result of this training, beginning to lower their premiums for superyachts with adequate helicopter safety training,” says Ross. “Some of our private customers have received reductions in their insurance premiums because they have had a legitimate company come on board and do a recognised training syllabus.”

Theory is all well and good but, theorise as you may, it is nigh on impossible to replicate practical scenarios without donning the gear and getting your hands dirty. It is in this area in particular that the MCA Large Yacht Helideck Safety Training syllabus sets itself apart from other courses. Unlike other helideck safety courses, this new approach is very literally a baptism of fire and one that SuperyachtNews happily (apprehensively) tried out.

Joining the course on day 2, Helicopter Fire Fighting, SuperyachtNews spent a morning learning about the various helicopter & helideck fire hazards, firefighting appliances, equipment & media and standard firefighting procedures & techniques. The second part of the day was dedicated to putting what had been learnt into practice.

Students gathered outside and were then taken through the correct procedures for preparing their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), at which point they donned their gear and prepared to battle the flames. Using a purpose-built rig, the Superyacht Aviation Support & Training team guided students through a number scenarios that included tackling engine fires, engine bay fires, battery fires and electrical fires. They also learnt how to respond to a crash on deck, conduct passenger evacuations, conduct casualty extractions and conduct post-fire procedures.

The course proved to be both eye opening and enjoyable.