A new search and rescue (SAR) helicopter is being provided from Norsk Helikopter for stationing on Statoil's Heidrun platform in the Norwegian Sea. This purpose-built Super Puma machine ranks as Norway's most modern SAR unit, and replaces a smaller helicopter of the same type placed temporarily on Heidrun by Norsk Helikopter last summer. Statoil is collaborating with Shell and Norsk Hydro over safety precautions in the Halten Bank/Nordland area.
“The helicopter is new, has few weather restrictions, and is fitted with the latest rescue equipment,” reports Erik Hamremoen, Statoil's aviation adviser. Air-sea rescue and medical evacuation are the primary focus of the SAR machine. It has two hoists and a specially adapted cabin for medical emergencies. Another innovation is the use of satellite communication, which puts the nurse in direct contact with a hospital or duty doctor before and during a flight. Electrocardiograms can also be transferred directly via this telephone link to the hospital while the helicopter is in the air.
Mr. Hamremoen reports that Statoil is also continuing to assess new and safer technology for offshore passenger flights by helicopter. He takes a positive view of the recent decision by the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority to introduce full radar coverage of the Halten Bank – something Statoil has sought for a long time. "In the meantime, we've compensated for the lack of radar coverage by such means as satellite monitoring of helicopter movements," he reports. "This system allows air traffic controllers to keep track of offshore flights. “In addition, we've installed traffic collision avoidance systems in all the helicopters operating on Halten/Nordland. This allows the pilots to monitor other traffic in their vicinity.”