Chris Wood, Operations Manager at Safeguard Helideck Certification (SHC) discusses the importance of thorough safety assessments and the correct certifications for helidecks
One helideck or two?
There is competition at the top end of the market with owners wanting to have the best and the biggest superyacht. This is forcing yacht designers to come 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 superyachts to have two commercially certified Helicopter Landing Areas. The safety implications for this are considerable as the possibility of concurrent flying operations from the same vessel throws up numerous hazards that need to be carefully addressed.
From our experience of working with some of the world’s largest superyachts we can see more demand for duel flying capabilities going forward and this raises some interesting questions. Will there be a requirement to have an Air Traffic Control type function onboard when utilising the helidecks for concurrent helicopter operations? And how long will it be before we see a Tilt Rotor Aircraft onboard? Among other important topics, 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.
The requirement for an AIB
SHC is an accredited Aviation Inspection Body (AIB) 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) and Cayman Island Shipping Registry (CISR). This certification process enables commercial flying operations to take place onboard superyachts that meet the requirements laid down. If these certifications are not in place, or not kept up to date, then superyachts cannot operate commercial flights from their helideck.