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ECA Helicopter pilots on a mission 

Edwin Tasma and David Abad, members of the ECA’s Helicopter Working Group delivered two key presentations at EASA’s Rotorcraft Symposium. Their mission: bringing their operational experience into the decision-making process at EU level & ultimately – improving safety!

Evidence Based Training:  One size does not fit all

Helicopters can be flown in a wide-range of different missions – offshore, HEMS, SAR, Hoist operations. Despite the variety of operation types, pilots are still often trained and assessed in the same way, regardless of their position or mission profile. 

In his presentation at Rotorcraft Symposium David Abad, Chairman of the ECA Helicopter Working Group, calls for tailoring of the pilot training to the specific operational risks helicopter pilots are exposed to. He reviews the benefits that can be brought by Evidence Based Training (EBT) and explained the achievements in the helicopter industry in recent years.

“What is it doing?” Making sense of automation  

ECA Expert Edwin Tasma (VNV) looks at helicopter information and automation systems as a tool to make helicopter pilot’s life easier. 

Some helicopter automation features give opportunities to operate in very unique scenarios. The SAR modes for example allow going from cruising altitude to as low as 50ft AGL (Above Ground Level), including a fully automatic “circuit pattern” into the wind, to a point in the middle of the sea (waves included) with absolutely no visual references. This is a great advantage that increases the operational capabilities of many emergency and transport operations. Nevertheless, it is not free of risk. And there is a thin line between automation as a friend or a foe.

Edwin Tasma pleads for more understanding of how many of the automated systems work, and awareness of the risks associated with those operational modes. In his presentation he called for a collaboration between manufactures and pilots for the sake of development of a friendlier human interface of automated systems, improved training and inclusion of automation as a recognised risk by Safety Management Systems.