Alexandria, VA, Feb. 1, 2010 — Flight Safety Foundation has launched the first global aviation standard for the mining and resources sector.
The Basic Aviation Risk (BAR) Standard Program provides a common safety approach to aircraft operations, which will help prevent the accidents that have affected the industry and its associated communities.
The BAR Standard Program was developed in consultation with some of the world’s leading resource companies, including BHP Billiton, Lihir Gold, Minerals and Metals Group (MMG), Xstrata and Rio Tinto.
The resources sector relies increasingly on aircraft for employee movement and a variety of other activities such as geological surveys, helicopter external load missions and offshore operations. Currently, multiple aviation safety standards exist, based on the expectations of individual companies. This has the potential to introduce inefficiencies, varying degrees of acceptability and overall lower levels of flight safety assurance, impacting resource sector firms.
Trevor Jensen, Flight Safety Foundation international program director and head of the BAR program, said that the ongoing management and global rollout of the standard is being led by the FSF 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,” Mr. Jensen said. “Combined with the challenging and often remote areas of operation, additional variables increase the difficulty, including the variety of aircraft types, adverse weather and terrain, wide number of aircraft operators and differing levels of regulatory oversight.
“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,” Mr. Jensen continued. “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 airplanes and helicopters to Boeing 737s.
The BAR Standard Program has also been endorsed by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), which represents resource companies producing more than 85 percent of Australia’s annual mineral output.
“The BAR Standard Program will improve aviation safety for everyone in the industry — for minerals companies, operators, employees, their families and supporting communities,” said MCA’s Assistant Director, Safety and Health Megan Davison.
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 was 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 sharing of information between companies.
In some instances, operators had to adhere to multiple standards and expectations that often caused confusion and, more importantly, distracted key operational and technical managers 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 improving operations and training.
William R. Voss, Flight Safety Foundation’s president and chief executive officer, 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,” Mr. 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,” Mr. Voss continued. “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 is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, auditing, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to pursue the continuous improvement of global aviation safety and the prevention of accidents. www.flightsafety.org
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