Offshore helicopters are now approved for an upgrade which should assist pilots in landing safely on installations.
Airbus announced this morning that its H175 model has been given approval by the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) to use the sophisticated avionics enhancement.
The ‘Rig Integrated GPS approaches with eNhanced Flyability and safetY’ – known as Rig’N Fly – provides fully automatic rig approaches.
The automated mode also reinforces flight safety by allowing the crew to focus on the flight parameters and the external environment.
Already certified for the larger H225 ‘heavy’ model, this avionics upgrade enhances the ‘medium’ class H175’s offshore mission capability, according to Airbus.
Marc Allongue, head of the H175 programme, said that the H175, of which there are now 19 operating worldwide including four in the North Sea, was evolving to meet the needs of the oil and gas industry.
He added: “This automatic approach procedure is a key element to increase the reliability and safety of our customers’ offshore operations.
“Thanks to the Rig’N Fly mode, their approaches to and take-offs from platform-based helipads will be safer and simpler.”
Rig’N Fly uses a combination of sensors including GPS, barometric altimeter, radar altimeter, and weather radar, to provide enhanced flight precision and situational awareness for automatic rig approaches.
The system also includes offset approaches, which can be tailored according to weather conditions and oil rig environment for the safest, standardized approach, placing the helideck in the most easily visible position for the crew.
By providing a repeatable path computation, the ability to couple the Automatic Flight Control System along with the flexibility to take environmental elements into account, Rig’N Fly reduces the workload of the crew, while enhancing situational awareness.
The H175 upgraded avionics suite also include advances in the Synthetic Vision System – offering a better display resolution and decluttering capability- and in the Helicopter Terrain Avoidance System, which optimises crew alerting time.
Approach-deviation alerts have also been improved while enhancement of the maintenance functions and associated ground tools allow for better detection of failures and simplification of data downloading.
A stricken Airbus H175 helicopter had to be taken ashore aboard a ship after a cockpit warning light appeared while the aircraft was on an oil rig.
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