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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Offshore Industry Moves Away From Hours as Pilot Hiring Benchmark

TRAINING

The oil and gas industry has decided to abandon flight hours as the prime benchmark for hiring pilots to support its operations.

It now wants competency-based flight training that would allow qualified individuals to move into jobs flying multi-pilot helicopters without having to accumulate 1,000 hr or more of flying experience. Such training is routinely used for pilot advancement. "What we haven’t had is guidelines for initial training based on a pilot’s competency," said Tony Cramp.

Senior aviation advisor, Americas for Shell Aircraft, Cramp worked on the group that developed such guidelines for the International Assn. of Oil and Gas Producers, known as OGP. It includes most of the world’s leading oil and gas companies.

"There is broad agreement within OGP" to adopt the new training approach, which was developed in consultation with training outfits like the Bristow Academy and FlightSafety International.

The change is driven by widespread recognition that the supply of pilots must be improved to offset the retirement of older generations and that flight hours can tell very little about a pilot’s skills and judgment.

Cramp said the approach already has been adopted by the Bristow Academy, owned by the offshore operator Bristow Group.

The approach is modeled on military flight training, which puts pilots in high-performance aircraft after just a few hundred hours of flight time. It starts with aptitude testing to see if pilot candidates are suited to offshore and related work. Ground school and early flight training "right from start would have a flavor of offshore flying," Cramp said. Each flight lesson would have specific objectives, and may well involved offshore-operations scenarios. It would require closer tracking of training records and closer oversight of flight instructors.

For more on this issue, visit www.rotorandwing.com

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