Safety in the HeliCat sector is a cornerstone of the association and the industry it serves. One of the most significant concerns expressed by industry in HeliCat’s 2016 Socio-Economic Impact Assessment stated, “…without reporting, we have no way to monitor and track the safety record of the industry.”
Taking a huge step forward to address this issue, HeliCat has partnered with Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Mitacs Canada for an Incident Database and Sector Risk Project. The $15,000 research project will not only develop a secure online database for storing detailed incident information, but will also incorporate historical data to provide an accurate risk assessment.
“While we have a decent understanding of the risks associated with avalanche involvements in helicopter and snowcat skiing, there is little quantitative information available about the risks associated with other hazards,” explains Ian Tomm, Executive Director of HeliCat Canada. “This study will start to address the knowledge gap.”
The research project aims to collect as much information as possible about historic incidents associated with all types of hazard (e.g., avalanches, tree wells, cravasses, vehicles, etc.) in an effort to clearly assess the risk factors at play.
“After compiling information from all sources that are publicly available, such as avalanche accident books and Transport Canada reports, we are now working with individual HeliCat operators to collect more detailed incident data,” explains Pascal Haegeli, University Research Chair in Avalanche Risk Management at SFU. “We’ve had lots of interest from operators and we are looking forward to working together with them on the data collection process as the season starts to wind down.”
The initial research project concludes in June 2017 and full findings will be presented at the HeliCat AGM in September.
HeliCat Canada invests more than $100,000 annually on research and special projects for the industry.