In an effort to increase the commitment to safety among all helicopter-skiing operators in the United States, Heli-Ski US Association, Inc. (HSUS) has made the decision to share its standardized safety and operating guidelines with land managers, government agencies, insurance companies, helicopter companies and prospective member heli-ski operations.
Over the last 15 years, HSUS has developed and continually improved its standardized, Helicopter Skiing Safety and Operating Guidelines, the aim of which is to define and implement the highest safety and operating practices in the helicopter-skiing industry.
Following two unfortunate accidents among non-HSUS operators in the past two years that brought heightened scrutiny to all heli-ski operators in the United States, the HSUS membership decided to share these standardized guidelines to bring greater safety awareness to the industry and to provide a framework for a broader discussion around safety issues.
Formally referred to as three separate documents including the “Heli-Skiing Safety & Operating Guidelines (HSOG’s)”, the “Guide Qualification Guidelines” and “Safety Officer Job Description”, these standardized practices have been developed through substantial effort and great expense on the part of the entire HSUS membership.
The HSOG’s include definitive guidelines on a broad range of activities and equipment that bear on operational safety, including: minimum helicopter equipment, pilot experience and training, snow safety management programs, emergency planning and rescue training and equipment, communications, guide experience and training, client education and much more.
The HSUS membership has long viewed these standards as providing them with a competitive advantage by ensuring the greatest attention to operating safety in the industry.
“From our very first year in 1984 the primary objective for HSUS has always been to define the best practices and procedures in the business in order to create a standardized set of guidelines from which all of our clients can have the utmost confidence that we’re operating as safely as possible,” says HSUS founder and President of Ruby Mountain Heli-Skiing, Joe Royer. “By sharing our experience and best practices with each other over the last several decades, we’ve become better ever year. Now, we believe we need to share what we’ve learned and show our clients how seriously we take their safety.”
This is the most thought-out, reviewed set of guidelines HSUS has ever implemented. “All of our members prioritize the safety and reliability of our operations for the benefit of our clients,” says Kevin Quinn, President of HSUS and Founder/President of Points North Heli-Adventures Inc. “Each of our members has a great deal invested in building a safer, more reliable industry and we think it starts with this set of safety guidelines.”
HSUS believes another essential ingredient in operational safety is the periodic performance reviews that each of its members go through to ensure full implementation of the HSOG’s and Guide Qualification Guidelines.
“We require periodic performance reviews of all of our member operators,” Quinn goes on to say. “Those reviews have significantly improved our safety guidelines as well as the operating procedures of individual member firms. And, they help us to identify best practices in the industry, which we routinely share with our entire membership.”
HSUS emphatically states that no matter how well drafted or implemented, no safety or operations program can eliminate all of the risks that are inherent in backcountry winter recreation activities and helicopter operations. HSUS’s primary objective is to manage and mitigate those risks as effectively as possible for the benefit of the customers of its member operators and for all those who venture into the backcountry.
Please contact me if you would like additional information concerning these documents or HSUS.
On behalf of the HSUS membership