Helicopter operators unite to create mental health support network for North-sea pilots

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FOUR North-sea helicopter operators have joined forces to create a network to support the mental health of offshore pilots in the UK.

Bristow Helicopters, CHC, NHV and Babcock began discussions to create a joint platform in 2019.

Upcoming changes to regulations set out by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) require all UK operators to have an effective peer assistance network in place by February 2021.

Those networks must be overseen by a qualified aviation psychologist, with peers selected and trained from across the workforce to ensure availability for colleagues in all locations and disciplines.

A group of 21 people from across the companies’ employee bases have been identified and each company has invested in putting them through mental health first aid and peer support training to ensure a unified approach to the support offered through the network.

Core Aviation Psychology has also been appointed as the third-party qualified aviation psychologist to provide guidance when required.

Matt Rhodes, Bristow Helicopter UK and Turkmenistan oil & gas director, said: “We believe this is the first collaborative network in the UK, and we’ve already received positive feedback from the Civil Aviation Authority on how we’re working together.

“Mental health is an extremely important issue, particularly in the aviation sector where it can have catastrophic results if support needs are not identified and help given when it’s needed most.

“Offshore pilots operate in a unique environment so in partnership with CHC, NHV and Babcock, we felt it was important to create a meaningful support system for crews where they can seek confidential help from those who understand the pressures of their role.”

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