The Flight Safety Foundation, an international organization focused on aviation safety, has launched what it claims is the first global aviation standard for the mining and resources sector.
According to a press statement issued by the FSF, the Basic Aviation Risk (BAR) Standard Program provides a common safety approach to aircraft operations which will help prevent accidents that have affected the industry in the past.
The BAR Standard Program, said FSF, was developed in consultation with leading resource companies, including BHP Billiton, Lihir Gold, Minerals and Metals Group (MMG) and Rio Tinto.
The resources sector relies increasingly on aircraft for employee movement and a variety of activities such as geological surveys, external load helicopter activity and offshore operations. However, multiple standards exist, based on individual companies’ aviation expectations. This has the potential to introduce inefficiencies, varying degrees of acceptability and overall lower levels of flight safety assurance to the resource sector, according to FSF.
Trevor Jensen, Flight Safety Foundation international program director and head of the BAR program, said the ongoing management and global rollout of the standard was being carried out by FSF’s regional office in Melbourne, Australia.
“Aviation risk management has always been one of the single greatest challenges to the safety of personnel in the resource sector. Combined with the challenging and often remote areas of operation, additional variables that increase the difficulty include variety of aircraft types, adverse weather and terrain, wide number of aircraft operators and differing levels of regulatory oversight,” Jensen said.
“Working closely with the resource industry’s leading companies, we have been able to address the many challenges facing their aircraft operations on a local and global scale. The BAR Standard Program will improve aviation safety for everyone involved in the industry—resource companies, aircraft operators, employees, their families and supporting communities.”
Resource companies carry out a variety of flights, ranging from passenger transfers, crew changes and geophysical operations, to medical evacuations, photography and surveys. Aircraft can range from single-engine aircraft and helicopters to Boeing 737s.
According to FSF, the variety of safety standards among aviation providers and resource companies has been a concern for the industry in recent years. Before the BAR Standard Program, there were no clear industry benchmarks for resource companies when assessing the safety of contracted aviation activity. This created multiple audit levels that were carried out with no information-sharing between companies.
In some instances, operators had to adhere to multiple standards and expectations that often caused confusion, and most importantly, distracted key operational and technical management from their primary duties. Furthermore, because of a lack of industry audit protocol, observations and interpretation lacked the rigor and transparency demanded of this key function of flight safety assurance.
A common safety standard enables air operators to spend less time on multiple audits, and encourages them to devote more time to operational improvement and training.
Bill Voss, FSF’s CEO, said the BAR Standard Program was a major step-change for the resources sector.
“A major weakness of the old ‘company-specific’ standards was they tended to be prescriptive and reactive to incidents. The BAR Standard Program, on the other hand, is based on leading aviation industry risk management principals—analyzing possible points of failure, and preparing for them,” Voss said.
“Global demand for a standardized, risk management approach has been high in recent years, but it required an independent organization to manage it. The Flight Safety Foundation has stepped into that role, and the resulting BAR Standard Program will provide the safety improvements the industry is looking for.
“Collaborating with industry leaders, we have created a solid standard that anticipates the risks rather than reacts to them, and can be applied to each company’s aviation operations easily and cost-effectively.”
Flight Safety Foundation’s Web site describes the foundation as an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, auditing, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. FSF is based in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, has a regional office in Melbourne, Australia, and is affiliated with associate organizations in Japan, Russia, Southeast Europe, Taiwan, China and West Africa. A copy of the updated BAR Standard can be viewed and downloaded at: http://flightsafety.org/archives-and-resources/special-reports.