Flying on short notice is a fact of life for helicopter operators. Whether supporting law enforcement, responding to a medical emergency, or evacuating an offshore oil rig, people’s lives depend on a fast response. However, keeping pilots and passengers safe while quickly reacting to developing situations is a delicate balancing act.
A significant variable for all operators — regardless of their industry — is the weather. Flying into adverse conditions exposes pilots to all of the dangers of night flying and introduces other hazards, such as icing, snow, severe winds, and lightning. With minimal lead times, planning flights for when conditions improve isn’t always possible or practical.
For emergency services, including firefighters, police, and medical responders, swiftly getting airborne is essential. Delays put lives at risk.
But even in utilities and offshore transportation, flight delays can affect essential maintenance work, setting back tight project timelines and hindering operational efficiencies.
The dangers of severe weather
Harsh weather, such as poor visibility, high winds, and thunderstorms, can lead to damaged equipment, reduced flight hours, and accidents causing injury or death. Such events are often headline news, showcasing the tragic results of these accidents. However, helicopters remain a safe way to travel, as long as operators have the right tools in place to support smart, timely decisions.
Yet, according to the International Helicopter Safety Team, misjudging the weather results in 18% of commercial helicopter accidents. Ensuring safety in adverse conditions remains a constant challenge, made all the more difficult without access to accurate weather data.
Operators working in emergency services, oil and gas, and utilities don’t necessarily have the luxury to postpone flights until conditions are more favorable. In these sectors, fast decisions require an intuitive understanding of the likely impact of current weather conditions. Accurate, real-time weather insights can help reduce risks and improve safety.
Helicopter flights need tailored weather forecasts, which cover lower altitudes. General aviation weather forecasts are not suitable, as helicopters have different go/no-go weather conditions.
Make smart decisions about your flights — fast
It’s not unusual for operators to get a call and need to be airborne within minutes. However, even in those scenarios, the weather conditions don’t need to catch you off guard. For quick, sound decision-making, everyone in the operation — from pilots to communications centers and dispatchers — should have access to the same weather observations and forecasts at the same time.
Using customized aviation forecasts and alerts, optimized explicitly for safe helicopter flights, ensures that time isn’t wasted reviewing multiple weather forecast websites or different data sources. Instead, it’s readily available and becomes part of your pre- and in-flight processes.
Enhancing this with real-time information means everyone is making decisions based on the latest insights.
Improve operational efficiencies with accurate insights
Precise, automated weather guidance helps operators make effective decisions — especially as safety parameters can be set to specific weather criteria.
Improve operational efficiency by using weather data to reduce flight times and minimize significant route changes or delays. Weather data also helps enhance the bottom line by ensuring schedules are on track and decreasing aborted flights due to bad weather.
Though some delays and cancellations are inevitable, high-quality weather forecast services can significantly reduce unnecessary cancellations by providing more accurate insights.
Accurate, real-time weather solutions support operational efficiencies for helicopter operations in numerous industries. Get the data you need to make informed, go/no-go decisions that ensure safety. Read the white paper – Complete Weather Intelligence for Helicopter Safety from DTN to find out more.