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Safety Action

Summary

Local safety action

The operator has amended the company's operations manual to correctly reflect the types of fire buckets used on the company's individual helicopter types.

The operator has standardised the position of the external load jettison switch on the different helicopter types used by the company in fire fighting operations.

The company's operations manual now details the type of safety clothing to be worn by pilots when engaged in water-bombing operations in company helicopters. The clothing specified includes the wearing of cotton or better, flying suits, approved helmets and comfortable fitting life jackets. Inflatable life jackets have been positioned in each helicopter for that purpose.

The operator has introduced a system for tracking the fitment and maintenance history of cargo hooks fitted to company helicopters.

ATSB safety action

In a briefing to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the ATSB drew attention to the fact that the occurrence bucket was not of standard manufacture, and highlighted the possible effects of the use of non-standard buckets by helicopters during fire fighting operations.

As a result of this occurrence, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau issues the following safety recommendations:

Recommendation R20030219

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, in conjunction with the relevant industry associations, highlight the safety benefits to helicopter pilots and crew of the wearing of personal protective equipment, such as helmets and personal flotation devices when carrying out water-bombing in support of fire fighting operations, through safety promotion initiatives.

Recommendation R20030220

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, in conjunction with the relevant industry associations, assess the desirability of a requirement for Helicopter Underwater Escape Training for specialist aerial work operations, such as water-bombing in support of fire fighting operations.

Recommendation R20030221

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, in conjunction with the relevant industry associations, consider advising Australian helicopter operators involved in water-bombing in support of fire fighting operations, of the need to review the type of fire-buckets used to ensure that they comply with the bucket manufacturer's guidance for use on helicopter types and to ensure that the fire-buckets are appropriately maintained.

 

1 Issue Date: January 2003.
2 Issue Date: May 2002.

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