According to the Annual Assurance Report released by the Defence Safety Authority, the majority of overseas helicopter training exercises have been cut.
The report identifies “significant resource pressures across the Department, which are likely to lead to further changes to organisations and potentially outputs, owing to activity reductions.”
This “resource driven reduction” has seen overseas exercises for most pilots cancelled by the military’s Joint Helicopter Command (JHC):
“For example, the JHC has had the majority of overseas exercises cancelled for its non-specialist forces and those not committed to operations in Afghanistan in FY17/18.
This resource driven reduction in activity already builds on reductions on the Commando Helicopter Force in 16/17 and will effectively prevent helicopter air and ground crews from growing and in some cases establishing proficiency in operating in hot, high and desert environments.
These skills are essential to the safe operation of aircraft in these environments and take years to develop fully. If not maintained, these skills cannot be re-gained in extended Readiness timelines without a significant increase in risk (the risk is of Controlled Flight into Terrain caused by flight in a Degraded Visual Environment).”
The purpose of the report, which can be found here, is to review the effectiveness of safety management across UK defence, assessing the degree of assurance it can have of safety management and the confidence in that assessment.
The report also summarises the most significant safety risks defence currently faces, with a detailed assessment of the risks involved and discussion of the importance of assurance in understanding and managing safety risks.