What are Emergency Float Systems?
Before telling about Emergency Float Systems, it is necessary to mention offshore aviation. According to the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC), offshore aviation is the one in charge to transport oil companies’ workers onshore and offshore.The transportation is done by helicopter however in order to carry it out,companies need to provide suitable and compatible aircrafts to the oil exploration operations as well as to the risks involved.
In this sense, offshore helicopters are aircrafts that operate in a fixed or floating marine platform. In order to work in this activity helicopters must be equipped with rescue devices calledEmergency Float Systems. It is included; lifeboats, life jackets and designed equipment installed on the aircraft to allow it to float and remain stable in case of landing on water and until all passengers and crew being evacuated.
So, according to the Brazilian Civil Aviation Regulation n. 135 (RBAC n.135), the offshore helicopter must be certified for landing on water and, of course, being equipped with floats and all duly approved salvage equipment. Thus, to meet the demand for transporting employees who work on board, offshore aircrafts need to operate in a very strict way respecting all maintenance and safety standards.
The history of offshore transportation in Brazil
In order to discuss Brazilian offshore transportation , it is necessary to highlight how oil exploration took place in our country considering this activity having been fundamental for the development of this type of air transport.
Petrobras is a Brazilian state-owned company, which works in the field of oil and natural gas exploration refining supplying the growing demand of energy production. The company was founded on October 3, 1953, in the government of Getúlio Vargas and since then it has carried out research to develop new technologies capable to optimize petroleum exploration.
Along the time, Petrobras started developing researches for offshore exploration, what it means , the exploration of the resource began to be carried out in deeper water, as most of our oil reserves are located there and that required the construction of platforms and consequently on board workers.
Therefore, with the growth of platforms, there has also been the need to transport employees from the continent to them. That enabled the offshore aviation to increase in Brazil. In this sense, several types of platforms have been created, such as fixed, floating and compliant, regarding each oil field has its own characteristics and specificities which also includes the construction of helipads and places where activities such as arrival and departure of passengers and cargo occur as well as the aircraft refueling.
Offshore Aircraft Types
Before presenting the types of aircraft used in offshore activity, it is necessary to emphasize, once again, that this type of transportation must meet the safety requirements of RBAC n. 135. For this purpose, helicopters need to be equipped with emergency equipment for operations in large areas of water, such as: life jacket with an emergency light bulb for each occupant; lifeboat with sufficient capacity for all occupants and with a properly approved location light; approved pyrotechnic signaling device; certification for normal water landing, which requires the presence of floats or “hull” type fuselage, etc.
There are several types of helicopters for transporting on-board employees, including: the twin-engine EC-135, which is light and easy to navigate; the twin-engine EC-155, which is faster and has more powerful engines; the S76C++, which has powerful engines and more technological safety devices; the AW179, which is a medium-sized, modern and spacious vehicle that can transport up to 15 passengers to more distant platforms; the EC225, which is a large helicopter, considered ideal for transporting people to platforms farther away from the coast, which can carry up to 18 passengers and one flight attendant; and the S92A, which, in addition to be comfortable, can carry up to 18 passengers and it has a high load capacity.
Emergency Float Systems Maintenance
For a safe landing on water, helicopters that transport over large expansion of water must have Emergency Float Systems, which must be kept in perfect working order. In order to keep them in good conditions , maintenance and repairs must be done periodically, always respecting all the manufacturer’s instructions.
Companies that work with this type of maintenance must be certified and maintaining trained personnel to carry out the activity. During the maintenance period, the specialized professional needs to check the integrity of the fixed flotation system and others, which includes inspection of the inflation and ejection devices; of gas cylinders; the survival kit; the state of conservation of life jackets and lifeboats; the actuation valves; the location lights; system activation switch etc.
Thus, the repair of rescue equipment must be included in the aircraft maintenance program, to check the general condition and integrity of the entire structure, ensuring the safety of the flight and all occupants, in case of an emergency landing in the Water. Offshore helicopters maintenance is essential for the smooth operation of transport and all operations. So, the companies that offer this service must be qualified, specialized and certified by ANAC.
Our company belongs to the SECAMIC group which has over 30 years of experience and is present on 5 continents! Secaleap has direct access to manufacturers and it works with original parts, to offer our customers the most advanced techniques and technologies beyond the proper safety in flight operations. So, never forget to schedule maintenance on your aircraft and include repair of these devices. For this, always count on us! Always count on Secaleap!