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Flight safety improves in remote mining locations

Downward trend in contract aircraft incidents

Flight Safety Foundation’s Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) Program is improving safety in Asia Pacific and across the globe, with a decrease in aviation accidents in the onshore resource sector since 2012.

The trend corresponds with the Flight Safety Foundation’s Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) Program 10th anniversary.

According to BARS Program managing director David Anderson, the reduced aviation accidents directly correlate to the growth of the BARS Program and will remain integral to maintain a downward trend in APAC.

“The Flight Safety Foundation developed the first Basic Aviation Risk Standard in collaboration with 12 Australian and American resource and mining companies to provide a more efficient means of monitoring, assessing and analysing safety risks associated with contracted aircraft operators,” Mr Anderson said.

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“Evidence shows that the number of contract aircraft accidents increases when activity in the mining sector surges.

“With production and sales of iron ore expected to increase significantly in Australia over the next six months, proper risk management will be even more important in maintaining this downward trend in contract aviation accidents.”

As one of only 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 Limited is Australia’s leading gold mining company and has been a BMO since 2011.

Newcrest Mining Senior Aviation Coordinator Mark Wheatley said the company, like many in the industry, had limited formal aviation risk management in place before joining BARS.

“Due to the high turnover of personnel in the resource sector, the most difficult part of transitioning to the BARS program was ensuring all staff were trained in the new standard.” Mr Wheatley said.

“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.”

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.

“We have found BARS easy to implement across all of our locations. Enabling critical control management of major aviation risks and providing our personnel with safety assurance,” Mr Wheatley said.

“BARS saves us the cost of undertaking numerous annual audits of aircraft operators, saving us between US$200-250,000 per annum.”

Exemplifying its leadership in the aviation industry, the BARS Program has evolved amid 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,” Mr Anderson said.

“BARS is continuing to offer businesses and governments that rely on contract aircraft peace of mind by ensuring safety standards are maintained at a time when many organisations are facing uncertainty and widespread restrictions.”

With the initial success of the remote monitoring audits and 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.”

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