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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Can Accidents Be Reduced to Zero?


Can a helicopter operator cut accidents to zero? Bristow Group aims to find out.

The company suffered two fatal accidents in 2004 and 2005 that took six lives and wrecked two aircraft — a Bell Helicopter 412 in Nigeria and Bell 206 in the Gulf of Mexico.

That spurred senior management of the company that owns Air Logistics and Bristow Eastern Hemisphere to develop a program to change its culture. The objective is to "quit looking at this as ‘a dangerous business and stuff happens,’" Bristow President and CEO Bill Chiles told Rotor & Wing.

Dubbed Target Zero, the program aims to eliminate all accidents — air, ground, and industrial — by, among other things, engaging every employee from the top down to take a personal stake in speaking up for safe practices at the moment they see a potential problem.

"The No. 1 core value in the company is safety," Chiles said. "It’s just non-negotiable."

While the effort logically should generate financial returns by reducing lost time for personnel and aircraft and increasing productivity, that wasn’t a reason for adopting the program. "We did it because it’s intuitively the right thing to do."

The program, launched with a series of two-day workshops at Bristow sites around the world, is the latest evolution of safety advances undertaken by the offshore drilling and offshore helicopter communities.

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