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Bristow, Rockwell Collins and Shell achieve certification of TCAS II for helicopters


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa and ABERDEEN, Scotland (UK).- Aviation history was made today when a Super Puma helicopter operated by Bristow Eastern Hemisphere departed from Aberdeen Airport this morning to various Shell installations in the East Shetland Basin with a Rockwell Collins’ Traffic Alert Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) operational. This the first time that a helicopter has gained operational approval for use of TCAS II equipment to provide the same level of enhanced safety that TCAS II normally provides to fixed wing aircraft.

Rockwell Collins worked alongside the Aberdeen-based Bristow with the assistance of Shell Aircraft to install, test and certify TCAS II. The group was able to use Rockwell Collins’ existing TCAS-4000 product line for fixed wing aircraft, without making any modifications to the system, and creatively apply it to a helicopter platform. This effort resulted in Bristow Eastern Hemisphere receiving the first ever EASA Supplemental Type Certification of TCAS II for rotary aircraft.

The aircraft is currently flying with the system operational on routes from Aberdeen, Scotland around the North Sea.

“This installation of TCAS II brings the proven safety benefits enjoyed by fixed wing aircraft to the rotary sector, further enhancing safety by significantly reducing the risk of airborne collision,” said Denny Helgeson, vice president and general manager, Business and Regional Systems for Rockwell Collins. “The safety and operational benefits this brings will be appreciated by all rotary wing operators, especially those operating in IFR/IMC (Instrument Flight Rules/Instrument Meteorological Conditions) situations. We look forward to working together with Bristow and Shell Aircraft to apply TCAS II capability to other helicopter types.”

“It was commonly believed in aviation circles that the installation of a TCAS II for helicopters would not be possible because of their speed and flight profiles. Our team, together with Rockwell Collins and with the support of Shell Aircraft, successfully met that challenge and created an implementation of TCAS II for helicopters, which is a world first,” said John Cloggie, director of European Operations for Bristow Helicopters. “We are committed to investment in systems such as this because of our ongoing commitment to enhancing the safety of the many thousands of passengers we transport offshore.”

TCAS II, which is required on fixed wing aircraft carrying more than 15 passengers, works by interrogating the air traffic control (ATC) transponders of other nearby aircraft to determine and display their altitudes, ranges and relative positions. The TCAS II computer uses sophisticated algorithms and interrogation techniques to calculate the speed, direction and conflict potential of these targets and if necessary, computes and displays a recommended vertical avoidance maneuver to ensure safe separation.


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