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ters, right? Well keep your imagination cap on for a minute. What if that same helicopter operator decided to hire fairly low time pilots, who have never so much as sat in the pilot seat of a tur- bine helicopter, let alone actually have


one? Nor has the pilot been further from a shoreline in a helicopter over water than the 1500 feet it would take to glide his R22 to the shoreline should the engine quit under perfect circumstances. It would almost seem illogical that such an

inexperienced pilot would be hired and placed in such extraordinary circumstances. No turbine time? OK, I could go for that. No offshore time? Most could swallow that one as well. But not having either sounds like trouble right? Wrong! It happens all the time and in fact it has become the standard in the offshore market.

“Education is the best provision for the

journey to old age.” - Aristotle The helicopter offshore flying environment

under the right circumstances can be a brutal, unforgiving place. The fact that operators in this sector can hire young (in their flying careers) and somewhat inexperienced pilots and still maintain a comparatively excellent safety record is a true testament to their training programs. In the last decade the offshore helicopter

operators have made light year jumps in their use of new technologies in both training and every- day business and Bristow Group in the GOM is no exception. They utilize new training facilities, state of the art simulation trainers, and many cre- ative training aids to help “train’em up and send’em out” into the real world. Naturally with over 240 pilots needing initial and bi-annual training in 9 different helicopter models, the 12 Instructor Training Department run by Director of Training Kent Dekerlegand can use all the tools he can get. Since many turbine helicopters have more

complex systems than their piston counterparts, Bristow gives extra attention to systems training to new hires who lack turbine experience. Traditionally systems training would be accom- plished using manuals and the actual aircraft. Maintenance Training Manager Doug Shaw has taken classroom systems training to a new level by turning actual aircraft components into full scale classroom training models. A student can preflight an entire rotor head, or look through custom built sight windows and learn the inner

workings of a main rotor gearbox from the com- fort of

the classroom. This type of

innovation is what makes the Bristow training product world class. Once the two weeks of initial training are

complete, new pilots will then enter a 3 – 7 day additional training period

called the Initial

Operational Experience Training (IOE). It is dur- ing this time that they get to strap on the heli- copter and get out into the real world of water and rigs. The training culminates in a full on company mission based solo flight. Bristow Chief Pilot Bob Old says, “The boost in confidence gained by the new hire pilot following the off- shore solo cross country is indispensable.


This is

particularly evident in those civilian trained new hires who have never worked in a 135 operation but it’s just as true for those recent ‘out of the military’ pilots who very rarely, if ever, have flown solo. To a new hire pilot, this puts all the train- ing into perspective.”

SIMULATION There is no doubt that helicopter simulation

is widely regarded as one of the best aviation training tools available today. Bristow incorporates simulation training into every level of training regardless of the helicopter flown or seniority of the pilot. For pilots flying either the Bell 206 or the Bell 407 they have two Frasca Simulators in house. For pilots flying larger helicopters such as the Eurocopter EC135 or the Sikorsky S76/S92, the training is contracted out to FlightSafety International (FSI). Personally, although I have a couple thou-

sand hours in the B206, I have never had the opportunity to fly the Frasca B206 simulator. I had my chance while at Bristow and was put through the paces by Bristow Instructor Pilot and Check Airman Brett Ingram. Although it was not a motion simulator, it realistically trains pilots for normal/emergency procedures and makes for an outstanding scenario based training aid. I was asked to perform one emergency pro-

cedure in particular designed just for company pilots. You will not however find this procedure in any Pilots Operating Handbook. The proce- dure was called the VHRP Procedure (pro- nounced vee-hirp) also known as the Vertical Helicopter Instrument Recovery Procedure. This is a “last resort” procedure for a pilot who might find himself inadvertent IMC or VFR on top and a fuel situation that would not allow the pilot to


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