The US FAA has approved a new functionality on the S-92 helicopter to provide offshore oil operators with an automated approach that reduces cockpit workload by 60 per cent and allows safer operations under challenging weather and operating conditions.
‘Rig Approach’ will be available as an option on the S-92 helicopters, providing a fully coupled and automated approach capability with a higher safety margin than currently is available with any other offshore approach procedure. The feature can be retrofitted to aircraft already operating.
“Our new Rig Approach feature takes the guesswork out of the equation when a pilot is flying out to an oil platform. It provides a ‘hands off’ approach that increases the safety of the aircraft tremendously. Sikorsky continues to hold safety as its highest priority, and we are excited to bring Rig Approach to our customers,” said Dan Hunter, Sikorsky’s commercial programs director.
Sikorsky developed the new safety feature in close collaboration with PHI, an important Sikorsky customer operating S-92 and S-76 helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico, providing transportation to offshore oil workers to the platforms there.
“The “Rig Approach” system is one of the most intuitive and innovative systems I have ever flown,” said Paul Perkins, Chief Pilot for PHI. “We flew more than 19,000 hours of IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) operations last year and will increase that number in 2013. The Rig Approach will play a huge role in our S-92 IFR operations by providing the crew with automation that reduces the workload at critical times during the instrument arrival procedure and provides additional barriers to CFIT (controlled flight into terrain).”