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December 23rd, 2009

FAA to Provide Stronger Air Traffic Control Services for Gulf of Mexico Offshore Helicopter Services

The maritime lawyers at SMSH have been very encouraged by the enhanced capabilities at the Houston Center for Gulf of Mexico Operations.  On December 17th, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that the Houston Center will now have Initial Operating Capability (IOC).  This will allow the FAA to offer enhanced air traffic control services in the Gulf of Mexico region to support offshore helicopter flights.

The offshore helicopter industry in the Gulf of Mexico is a highly competitive one with hundreds of flights to and from oil rigs every day, adding up to thousands of flights a year.  Over the past four years, offshore helicopter operators in this area, the oil companies that they service, and Helicopter Association International have worked together with the FAA to boost capabilities.  These increased capabilities have included the use of ADS-B systems or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast systems.  These systems allow both pilots and air traffic controllers to control helicopters more precisely.  The systems also allow continuous broadcast of aircraft position and another important data to other craft nearby or to ground control operations.  Other enhanced air traffic control services at the facility have contributed to better weather reporting systems, as well as voice communications for low attitude helicopter flights.

The new IOC facility is expected to enhance the helicopter operating efficiencies of the 650+ helicopters servicing oil and gas companies in the Gulf.  As maritime lawyers who represent oil rig workers injured in these helicopter crashes, offshore helicopter safety and crash prevention systems are always on our minds.  While these agencies and operators work together to increase safety for offshore personnel, we will continue to place pressure on these offshore helicopter companies to further enhance their systems and processes, to minimize the risk of crashes.

Contact us for free information about maritime injury law, longshore claims or maritime piracy issues.  If you think you may have a maritime law claim, please call us. We are a maritime law firm and we will confidentially speak with you about your injury and answer your questions about maritime law.  No matter where you live, Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers can help you get the help you need.

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