28/01/2010 - 00:00

Aircraft safety initiative

28/01/2010 - 00:00

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THE world’s leading mining companies have thrown their weight behind a landmark Australian initiative aimed at ensuring a worldwide safety standard for aircraft operators servicing the mining and resource sectors.

Aircraft safety initiative

THE world’s leading mining companies have thrown their weight behind a landmark Australian initiative aimed at ensuring a worldwide safety standard for aircraft operators servicing the mining and resource sectors.

The initiative has big implications for Australia’s resources sector, which is heavily reliant on the airborne transport of workers to and from working locations, both within Australia and at Australian-owned operations overseas.

To be launched in Melbourne this week, the ‘basic aviation risk standard program’ has been developed by the Australian office of the Flight Safety Foundation, the global independent body for aviation safety, in conjunction with some of the world’s leading resources companies, including mining majors Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

The BAR program will ensure that air service providers working with mining companies meet a uniform world’s best safety standard, no matter where in the world or the type of aircraft they operate.

Trevor Jensen, Flight Safety Foundation’s international program director, said the program had been devised in close consultation with major resources companies to significantly improve safety standards for everyone involved in the industry.

Significantly, it should also lead to major cost benefits for companies and air service operators by reducing the need for multiple safety audits.

Currently, the air services provider is audited by each of its major customers annually to ensure it conforms to the standard they require.

But under the BAR program, only one such audit would be needed by a services provider each year, as it would certify the provider’s credentials to work for all major customers that signed up to the program.

“So by and large, that should take costs out of the business over the longer term,” Captain Jensen said.

Audits for a small charter operator typically cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to undertake, rising to many thousands more for large-scale operators.

Importantly, Captain Jensen said the program did not involve the lowering of a single aviation safety standard below those that apply in Australia.

“Really good safety doesn’t need to be gold-plated, it’s about good culture and the willingness of management to participate,” he said.

BHP will be the first to adopt the standard in February, with auditing set to commence from the middle of the year.

 

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