In the latest instalment of The Superyacht Group’s Digital Dialogues series, William Mathieson is joined by Chris Wood, operations manager at Safeguard Helidecks, to discuss the blurring of land and sea and the practical considerations for the safe operation of helicopters on board superyachts as options for aviation continue to grow in line with the size and complexity of the superyachts themselves.

Wood has 20 years of maritime aviation experience, including 15 years in the Royal Navy as aircrew and five years working within the superyacht industry. As an experienced Helideck Certification Officer, Wood has worked with numerous superyachts and their crew to ensure that they are operating helicopters in the safest possible manner.

“The concepts that we are seeing now are bigger than ever,” starts Wood. “I have been fortunate to have been in a few design meetings recently where my mind has been blown by what they are trying to achieve. In line with this, there is going to be more demand for aviation and air travel, in general, is going to go through the roof. If I was talking to you 10 years ago we would not be able to say that we are as busy as we are now. Part of our role is to make sure that people understand that aviation isn’t an add on like a toy might be.”

While Wood is enthusiastic about the prospect of new and exciting projects that increasingly include options for aviation, he is clear in his explanation that aviation, especially in conjunction with maritime operations, is dangerous. As such, Wood is eager for aviation safety specialists to become involved in projects at the earliest practical point. Equally, the work is far from done once the design and build of a helideck are complete. Wood goes on to discuss the importance of certification, training, safety protocols on board, audits, best practice and the future of superyacht aviation.

“The unimaginable can become reality and I think we are going to see a change in direction for maritime aviation. I believe that unmanned aerial mobility is going to kick in soon, so we may see more drone operated activity on superyachts, whether that is just with cargo or personnel,” continues Wood. “I think there is going to be a change in how we operate, I doubt helicopters will disappear because they’re the workhorses of the industry. Certainly, the vessels will get larger and we will see more concurrent aviation operations, rather than single spot activity, and the more aircraft operating from one vessel, the more we are going to have to control this traffic to ensure safety even further.

To view the full interview, click here.

Chris Wood, operations manager at Safeguard Helidecks

The One to One series is a collective campaign for change and industry improvement, and we welcome participants from all sectors. If you would like to take part or contribute your thoughts, please contact Eleanor Shepherd.  

You can view the ever-growing archive of Digital Dialogues here.

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Safeguard Helideck Certification

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