Global reduction in onshore resource aircraft accidents

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Fly in fly out mine workers queuing up for departure in Perth. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

The onshore resource sector is trending towards its first fatality-free year, continuing a steady reduction in fatal aircraft incidents since the inception of Flight Safety Foundation’s Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) Programme. Since 2012, BARS has been collecting accident data from its member organisations (BMOs) to identify safety risks (non-conformities) and develop solutions to advance the safety of the industry. The dataset includes all known accidents associated with the mining sector and covers all aviation activities, including passenger operations, aerial mustering, helicopter sling loads, powerline construction and cargo.

BARS Program Director David Anderson said the downward trend demonstrates the impact of organisations implementing a consistent global standard. “Implementing a single standard reduces the audit burden on the operator, provides consistency and standardisation, and saves both the mining sector and the aviation suppliers a significant amount of money and time,” Anderson said. “A key element of the BARS Program’s design was gathering and analysing the number of non-conformities and their respective close-out rates (CoR). We know that 99.8 percent of findings raised are addressed within the nominated time frame, which is a huge increase from the 60 percent CoR when we first started,” he said.

The data indicates 82 fatal accidents for a total of 263 deaths for 2010 to 2020. A single fatality event was recorded in 2020, despite an increase in contracted aviation operations as a result of reduced commercial services, a first since record keeping commenced.

Newcrest Mining Senior Aviation Coordinator Mark Wheatley said BARS provides a holistic approach to mitigating risk. “Implementing the BAR Standard into our organisation has created a better understanding about the principles of aviation risk management and the benefits of doing the process properly among our personnel,” Wheatley said. “BARS also provides training programmes that support the delivery of the audit programme and provides personnel with greater safety assurance.”

Anderson said he looked forward to the downward trend being replicated across other industry sectors. “The Flight Safety Foundation, through the BARS Programme, is proud to be a part of this ongoing investment in improving aviation safety within the mining industry and the aircraft operators supporting this sector,” he said. “The BARS Program has proven to be adaptive, resilient, results driven and now key to maintaining the downward trend in contract aviation accidents.”

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