Superyacht Aviation helps maritime safety soar

Yachting Pages interviewed Jonathan Turner, director at Superyacht Aviation to find out more about aviation training for crew and how the need for this training has developed.

1) In your own words, how would you describe Superyacht Aviation and how it all began? 

Superyacht Aviation was founded in 2013.  Both myself and my fellow director Gareth Ross have both enjoyed successful careers in different facets of maritime aviation in the Royal Navy; Gareth as a maritime aviation support specialist and myself as helicopter aircrew and aircrew instructor. 

We had both been approached to conduct some training in the superyacht industry because of our combined professional experience and our holistic view of safe helideck operations.  We provided a bespoke helicopter operations guide and trained a number of Helicopter Landing Officers (HLOs) and Helideck Assistants (HDAs) to a private yacht, including on board helicopter refuelling training. 

The positive feedback we received inspired us to use our experience to design and deliver a number of superyacht aviation safety support and training services to a burgeoning sector of the superyacht industry.      

2) How do you describe your business?  How has it developed over the years?

Our mission is to promote maritime aviation safety.  We’re still a new company but we have big ambitions in our plans to achieve this mission in the superyacht sector.  With our over-arching attention on safety, we are currently focused on providing core safety management products and deck crew training but our strategy is to develop into new areas in the coming months and years.

3) What makes Superyacht Aviation different from its competitors?  How are you unique?

As well as delivering training to superyachts wherever they may be worldwide, we are also able to deliver a one-stop helideck crew training solution at our base in the UK, which includes a full range of realistic, emergency training scenarios. 

Although conducting training on board the yacht is very convenient for our clients, conducting emergency training scenarios on board, often without a helicopter, can only go so far to replicate the situations, which operatives need to be trained for. 

Live helicopter fires is one aspect that can’t be trained realistically.  To meet the requirements of the standards set within the UK MCA training helideck training syllabus, delegates must undertake live fire fighting training and to that end, we work in conjunction with our partners in the UK to deliver a complete helideck training package to both our private and commercial clients. 

This course incorporates all elements of the MCA Large Yacht Helideck Emergency Training syllabus in one realistic, self-contained, bespoke training facility, located on a floating pontoon on the River Solent at Hythe, Southampton.  

Superyacht Aviation is also able to draw upon the broader experience base of our staff to deliver consultation in the design and compliance of commercial helidecks and the associated aviation support facilities in accordance with CAP 437. 

4) What’s new with your business?  Are you working on any new developments at the moment? 

We are currently in the process of gaining industry accreditation for conducting commercial helideck inspections, which will enable us to provide independent safety auditing. 

As well as this, we are preparing to develop our helideck training facilities in Southampton to bring them up to the OPITO (Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation) standards to enable us to offer Helicopter Landing Officer and Helideck Assistant training to the wider offshore helideck community. 

Our recent partnership with Fire Aid in Southampton has also allowed us to offer their full range of ship fire, safety and security training courses, including the STCW, to our clients.

5) Is there anything that people don’t know that you would like to announce?

We have recently developed a one-day Aviation Awareness for Yacht and Technical Managers course.

With the proliferation of yachts with aviation facilities, we have noticed that there was a need to inform yacht and technical managers who are not used to managing aviation-capable yachts of the issues surrounding aviation which could affect them.  

The course covers regulation, certification and compliance issues, as well as deck crew roles, responsibilities and training requirements, general helicopter hazards, industry best-practice and standard and emergency operating procedures including medical evacuations.

6) Who is your key target audience? 

Our key target audience comprises yacht managers, captains and crew of private or commercial aviation-capable superyachts – i.e. those that have at least one helideck. 

Aside from this key group, there is a requirement by the UK MCA for all crew on board aviation-capable large yachts under the Red Ensign to undergo training about helicopter operations.  This ties in with our newest course on Aviation Awareness for Yacht and Technical Managers, so we have also designed a course specifically for non-helideck crew on board aviation-capable large yachts. 

7) What is your top tip in your industry? 

Take the time to facilitate aviation training into the crew training programme as you would any other safety procedure.  Even if you do not have a helicopter or helideck at the moment, you never know when you may need to receive a helicopter to conduct an emergency medical evacuation. 

8) What are the current trends in your sector at the moment?

The current trend in our sector is the increase of superyachts being built with aviation facilities.  These facilities range from small touch-and-go helipads to larger or multiple helidecks on a single yacht; some even have helicopter refuelling facilities. 

9) Are you attending any upcoming boat shows?  Are you doing anything special?

We will be visiting the inaugural London Yacht, Jet and Performance Car Show in April and we’ll also be at the Monaco Yacht Show again in September. 

For further information, visit Superyacht Aviation

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