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Taking an insider's look at helideck operations

Lee Hooper, Helideck Certification Officer at Safeguard Helidecks, examines the need for a Helicopter Landing Area Certificate (HLAC), and looks at why it is important to engage early with an Aviation Inspection Body (AIB)…

“The pandemic has undoubtedly been tough on the aviation industry, and while we have managed to continue with much of our work, it has not been easy. But, with travel restriction beginning to lift in some parts of the world and airlines starting to operate more flights, we are now getting out to superyachts once again to review their helicopter operations and complete their important inspections and certifications.”
 
Why do you need a Helicopter Landing Area Certificate (HLAC)?
To operate commercial flights to your superyacht you are legally required to have it inspected and certified by an Aviation Inspection Body (AIB) to ensure it complies with current maritime aviation regulations.  Without this certification in place you cannot fly charter passengers on or off your superyacht.  We are authorised to issue Helicopter Landing Area Certificates (HLAC), Helicopter Landing Area Inspection Reports (HLAIR) and Helicopter Landing Area Technical Certificates (HLATC) on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Malta and the Cayman Islands Registry. 
 
Although privately operated helidecks do not require certification, it is our recommendation and good practice to have the Helicopter Landing Area facilities inspected by an AIB. Our role as an AIB is to ensure that aviation onboard superyachts is taking place in the safest possible manner and that the facilities comply with the regulations. To do this, we carry out a full inspection of the helideck area to evaluate the following:
·      Dimension, layout, obstructions, deck friction levels, landing area markings and structural considerations.
We also review:
·      Fire detection and extinguishing arrangements;
·      Emergency equipment and procedures;
·      All documentation associated with helicopter operations.
 
  
Why is it important to engage early with an Aviation Inspection Body?
We always recommend early engagement with our team when planning a new build superyacht. Our involvement with shipyards and design teams ensures the designs will comply with the regulations for a commercially certifiable Helicopter Landing Area. This becomes even more critical where an owner has specified that they require dual helidecks, one fore and one aft.  We can ensure that the designs for dual landing areas will meet the regulations thus avoiding the need for costly redesign or rebuild further on in the build process. 
 
It is also important for superyachts that have been conducting aviation operations and require a re-certification of their helideck facilities. Early engagement allows for uninterrupted operation of your Helicopter Landing Area and ensures your clients can enjoy a safe landing and take-off from your superyacht.
 
Is it time to Review your Helicopter Landing Area Certificate (HLAC)?
One result of the pandemic has been the limited opportunity for maritime aviation, with many superyachts ‘parked up’ with just a skeleton crew on board. But as travel starts to open up it is important that you arrange an inspection of your helideck facilities to ensure that the prolonged lack of helicopter operations hasn’t led to problems with the landing area.  We would recommend that the aviation facilities are inspected before you start flying again.  This will ensure the superyacht’s landing area and operations have remained safe and that no issues have developed during this long ‘down’ time.
 
By ensuring a helideck complies with the regulations, the superyacht’s owner/operator gains assurance that their landing area can be operated safely, and that the crew are trained and competent.
 
As a team, we have combined, over 60 years of experience operating helicopters on vessels at sea. Our team comprises of Ex-Military Aircrew, Flight Deck Officers, Survival Specialists, Safety Management Specialists, Helicopter Engineers and Naval Architects. We live and breathe maritime aviation and strive to ensure that superyachts can enjoy their helicopter operations in the safest way possible.
 
If you have a question about Helideck Certification you can contact Lee Hooper at:
lee.hooper@safeguardhelidecks.co.uk
or visit
www.helideckcertification.co.uk

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Safeguard Helideck Certification

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Taking an insider's look at helideck operations

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