Aviation safety issues and actions

Policies and procedures for planning IFR and NVIS flights

Issue number: AO-2016-160-SI-01
Who it affects: Operating crew and other occupants on emergency medical service flights
Issue owner: CHC Helicopter Australia
Transport function: Aviation: Air transport
Background: Investigation Report AO-2016-160
Issue release date: 06 November 2018
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Issue status justification:

The ATSB is satisfied that the operator took appropriate steps to reduce the risk of there being varying interpretations of its flight planning policies amongst its pilots.

Safety issue description

Although CHC Helicopter Australia’s operations manual stated that emergency medical service flights should be conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR) ‘where practical’, its procedures for night visual flight rules (NVFR) operations using night vision goggles did not clearly state when IFR rather than NVFR should be used.


Proactive Action

Action number: AO-2016-160-NSA-011
Action organisation: CHC Helicopter Australia
Date: 06 November 2018
Action status: Closed

Following the occurrence, the operator reviewed the way its flight planning policies (regarding when IFR should be used) were interpreted across its different bases. On 25 November 2016, it issued a Flying Staff Instruction (FSI) to all EMS/SAR pilots and aircrew to standardise IFR flight planning policy and clarify the conditions under which NVIS operations below lowest safe altitude (LSALT) could be planned and conducted. On 31 January 2018, the operator incorporated the text of that FSI into the Operations Manual Part F (OMF).

Last update 11 July 2019