The early days of the FlS for helicopters on the North Sea, initially in the Brent Field, mid-way between the Shetlands and Norway. The ATSU was in one of those Portakabins next to the helideck. The “Nordraug” was a semi-submersible – every so often, it would need to up-anchor and move. Explosives on the sea bed were triggered with a radio signal and it was thought that there could be a problem with the FIS’s VHF transmitters! The captain then had to phone through with the new position and the new helideck elevation and QFE datum! – John Faulkner
see also Harry Hockney North Sea Portfolio
for the later ATS provided from Aberdeen see ATC at Aberdeen brochure 1984
Brent Field HFIS, the “Nordraug”, c 1977
Brent Field ESB Chris Stock on the right
East Shetland Basin Experience
Most photos by Roy Kendall, text from Chris Stock. The two photos of Nordraug come from Andy Rackham.
the links below show the East Shetland basin route structure
The route structure did not change very much from the start of ATC services. ATC was procedural approach with deck landings under the “control” of the Helideck Landing Officers. Separation was based on pilot reports using Decca and rig approaches used a combination of NDBs and the aircraft weather radars when closing in on the platform.
Routes to and from the basin have not changed much but within the ESB, surveillance is available through MLAT.
The first home of offshore ATC after a decision had been taken to provide air traffic services to helis en-route to the offshore platforms and within the East Shetland Basin (ESB)
OIL4 Nordraug cabin
The first ATC cabin – visual lookout zero!
OIL 5 Cormorant A
Permanent location of ATC and Brent Log – the logistics element of the operation. The cabin can be seen against the helideck overlooking the drilling deck. Additional hazards were large helicopters landing above the cabin and the occasional crane swinging its load of pipes striking the cabin loosening everyone’s teeth fillings!!
OIL6 Brent B
In the event of a radio silence on CORA or an emergency, ATC was transferred to the Brent B. The ATC cabin is the unit hanging on the side of the platform to the right of the Brent B signage.
OIL7 Brent Log cabin
A close up view of the ATC cabin on CORA
OIL8 New Brent Log
Move from old cabin to improved accommodation – the unit sitting alongside the helideck
OIL9 New Brent Log
An upgrade of ATC facilities
OIL10 Treasure Finder
Semi-sub accommodation platform – offshore hotel with 2 helidecks and a hangar.
OIL11 Chinook approaching
Chinook approaching a semi-sub platform
OIL12 Chinook 2
Chinook landing on CORA just above the ATC cabin – a lot of vibration and noise!
OIL13 Queen of the skies S61
G-BCEA approaching to land – the most comfortable and spacious of all the offshore aircraft. A full Chinook carried 44 pax and 1 cabin crew everyone sitting tightly in survival suits with very little legroom or seat width whereas the S61 carried 19 with room to stretch your legs.
OIL14 Bell 214 bus
The workhorse of the ESB. The Bells were based on Treasure Finder and other platforms. Early morning, they would transfer large numbers of personnel between the accommodation platforms and the drilling platforms. In the evening the reverse process would take place. These were periods of high intensity workloads which, if combined with the en-route traffic would cause interesting procedural problems. When not carrying out shuttles, the Bell 214 would act as a bus moving personnel and cargo around the ESB on an agreed timetable.
OIL15 Arthur Hughesdon and Martin Stammers at work in the new facilities.
OIL16 Andy Rackham in the original CORA cabin
OIL17 Just passing
Harry Hockney, SATCO ESB at work in the original CORA cabin with the bus just passing by!
OIL18 Wind increasing
There were days when the weather got a bit rough and flying ceased. Highest gust I experienced was 120 kts and the platforms shuddered.
OIL 19 one of the “aerodromes” in the Brent Field. Final approach to the semi-submersible Vildkat, moored alongside Brent Bravo
OIL 20 Montage of heli photos by John Faulkner