What does the future hold for superyacht aviation?
Chris Wood, Operations Manager at Safeguard Helideck Certification shares his thoughts…
We are fortunate to be starting 2021 with big plans for the year and exciting new projects on the horizon. But our usual process of jumping on a plane and flying out to visit a superyacht or management company has obviously had to stop. To travel now needs considerable thought from the yacht and from us. We must ensure that it is totally necessary to travel and that we aren’t at risk of catching or spreading Covid-19. We specialise in Aviation Safety, so we are taking the same Risk Assessment process with our travel. Is it vital to travel, or can it wait? The world has changed. Crew are hesitant to see contractors or visitors outside of the yacht’s bubble, and understandably so.
So, where does this leave the future of superyacht aviation?
The future is undoubtedly bright and as an industry we should all continue to work together to ensure it bounces back stronger than ever. Aviation is still a huge part of the superyacht world and it is not going away! Clients are becoming more demanding in their requirements and yacht designers are coming up with fresh and innovative ideas in response. Naval architects are working up concepts that see every bit of spare space on a yacht utilised and there is a trend at the top end of the market for auperyachts to have two fully operational Helicopter Landing Areas. Normally these are situated with one aft on the sun deck and one forward on the bow. We regularly give helideck consultancy to yacht designers and shipyards in the early stages of design to ensure that the proposed helidecks will meet the regulations and can be awarded their Helicopter Landing Area Certificates (HLAC).
From our experience of working with some of the world’s largest superyachts, we can see more demand for dual-flying capabilities going forward and this raises some interesting questions. Will there be a requirement to have an Air Traffic Control-type function on board when utilising the helidecks for concurrent helideck operations? And how long is it before we see a Tilt Rotor Aircraft on board. Or even a superyacht with an aircraft carrier-type runway? These are all things that will no doubt be a topic of conversation for future working groups and we look forward to being a part of those discussions. And, who knows, in the not-too-distant future we may even see the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) on board superyachts, flying owners and guests ashore.
The rules and regulations will have to evolve alongside these developments in superyacht aviation and we are already working with the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry to help make updates and improvements to the REG Yacht Code Annex H, and we look forward to participating in future aviation working groups. Whatever the future holds, Safeguard Helideck Certification will continue to be at the forefront of superyacht aviation, continuing our work as an Aviation Inspection Body (AIB) on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Our team comprises 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, whatever the future may bring!
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