Audit program sets sights on mining aviation safety
Flight Safety Foundation’s Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) Program aims to improve safety in the Asia–Pacific region and across the globe, with aviation accidents decreasing in the onshore resource sector since 2012. This trend corresponds with the Flight Safety Foundation’s BARS program 10th anniversary. BARS Program Managing Director David Anderson stated that the reduced aviation accidents correlate to the growth of the BARS Program and will remain integral to maintain a downward trend in the Asia–Pacific. Anderson noted that the first Basic Aviation Risk Standard was developed by the Flight Safety Foundation, in collaboration with 12 Australian and American resource and mining companies, to help monitor, assess and analyse safety risks associated with contracted aircraft operators. Anderson predicted that rising production and sales of iron ore in Australia over the next several months will require proper risk management, to maintain this downward trend in contract aviation accidents.
“Evidence shows that the number of contract aircraft accidents increases when activity in the mining sector surges,” Anderson said. As one of three globally recognised standards, BARS Member Organisation’s (BMO) incident and audit data is aggregated to identify gaps in contract aviation risk management to improve safety standards for the entire industry. Newcrest Mining, a leading Australian gold mining company, has been part of BMO since 2011. Its Senior Aviation Coordinator, Mark Wheatley, said the company had limited formal aviation risk management before joining BARS. Wheatley noted that the most difficult part of transitioning to the BARS program was training all staff in the new standard, due to the rate of high turnover of personnel in the sector. “Thankfully, BARS developed the Helicopter External Load Operations for Ground Personnel training course to provide basic training for any personnel engaged in activities involving helicopter under-slung loads,” Wheatley said.
Newcrest uses the BARS program in a range of remote locations presenting unique aviation risks from high temperatures in Western Australia to frigid conditions in northern British Columbia. However, Wheatley stated that BARS is easy to implement across all of Newcrest’s locations, enabling critical control management of major aviation risks and providing personnel with safety assurance. According to Wheatley, BARS saves Newcrest the cost of undertaking numerous annual audits of aircraft operators, saving between US$200–$250,000 (AU$275–$344,968) per annum. The BARS program also evolved amid coronavirus border lockdowns to assess the safety of aircraft operators remotely.
“Without the BARS Program, and now our remote monitoring audit solution, companies in a range of different sectors would need to wait months in the current climate for an auditor to be able to physically travel to conduct an assessment of an aircraft operator,” said Anderson. BARS provides businesses and governments with peace of mind by ensuring that safety standards are maintained at a time when many organisations face uncertainty and widespread restrictions. Due to the success of the remote monitoring audits and with international travel unlikely to resume before July 2021, BARS has extended its remote auditing program to December 2020. “Now more than ever, BARS operates to ensure standards are met for contract aircraft enabling them to carry people home safely,” said Anderson.
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