Health and Safety

Safety is taken very seriously at SGL and is always a primary factor in any decision. SGL currently owns and operates one of the largest fleets of geophysical survey aircraft.  The fleet includes eight turbine Cessna Grand Caravans, two de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters, and two Airbus Helicopters AS350 B3s.  Since the formation of the company in 1956, SGL has flown and compiled more than 12 million line kilometres of high resolution airborne geophysical data and has logged more than 100,000 hours of survey flying.  All of this has been accomplished with no aircraft accidents or serious injuries.

SGL is proud of its excellent safety record, and attributes its safe operations to the quality and experience of its field crews and flight operations crew, and management's ongoing commitment to safety.  In order to ensure that company standards are met, all company aircraft are flown and maintained by permanent SGL employees while in the field and at head office.  In addition to company training on specific aircraft, most of SGL's pilot's have successfully completed the Flight Safety course for the aircraft they fly.  These courses entail a comprehensive ground school and flight simulator training.

The following sections provide an overview of procedures and policies drawn from the company's Air Operator Certificate, Flight Operations Manual, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual, Maintenance Control Manual, Emergency Response Plan, Health, Safety, and Environment Policy Manual and the IAGSA Safety Policy Manual.  IAGSA is the International Airborne Geophysics Safety Association, of which SGL is a founding and an accredited member in good standing.

SGL staff in training

SGL staff participating in water egress course

Flight Operations

Project Planning and Risk Analysis

Prior to commencement of flight operations, a detailed risk analysis modelled on that described in the IAGSA Safety Policy Manual is conducted to determine the suitability of the aircraft type chosen given the survey technical specifications and location.  The flight crews are provided with the results of the risk analysis after its approval by management and are expected to provide feedback.  Project planning also includes the provisions of the company Health, Safety and Environment Policy Manual.

Air Regulations

Before commencing operations, it is the pilot´s responsibility to become familiar with the local Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) and all other relevant information (i.e. NOTAMS).  The flight crew is to visit the local Air Traffic Services (ATS) and Meteorological Offices in order to establish personal contact with the local airport staff and to review local regulations and Search and Rescue (SAR) procedures.  The flight crew also provides the ATS with a map of the survey area, a description of the aircraft, the intended flight altitudes and the operational procedures.  Where possible, any other airports in and around the survey block are notified.  Particular attention is given to military flight personnel and operations, landowners with livestock, and affected municipalities.

Pilot Qualifications

Before undertaking any duties as a flight crew member, all the requirements of the company´s approved ground and flight training program as described in the Flight Operations Manual shall have been satisfied.  Before flying company aircraft, the pilot has the responsibility of ensuring that all required licenses, certificates and ratings are in force.  A flight crew member annually undergoes a pilot competency check conducted by the chief pilot, in each type of aircraft to be flown.

Crew Operating Procedures and Responsibilities

Each flight crew consists of two pilots.  Pilots shall use an aircraft checklist, standard calls, and procedures as described in the SOP Manual during all flight operations.  The two pilots share handling duties in flight to mitigate the onset of fatigue.  The aircraft shall be flown at all times within the limitations of the aircraft's flight manual and supplements along with any additional requirements imposed by the civil aviation authority.

Flight Rules

Survey operations on the company aircraft are to be conducted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) during daylight hours only.  Certain flights or portions thereof may be conducted at night and or under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) under conditions described in the Flight Operations Manual.

Flight and Duty Time Limitations

Notwithstanding any flight and duty time limitations required by regulation or specific survey contract, the following limitations are to be observed by flight crews during all flight operations:  maximum of 14 duty hours in any day; minimum of 3 days of rest in any 30 day period and a minimum of 13 days of rest in any 90 day period; maximum flight times of 60, 120 and 300 hours in any period of 7, 30 and 90 consecutive days, respectively.

Flight Planning and Flight Following

Prior to the first flight in a new area, the flight crew will develop a protocol for flight following including search and rescue specific to the operating base and survey area.  For each flight, the flight crew is required to file a company Operational Flight Plan with a person assigned flight following duties prior to departure.  In addition, a Flight Plan must normally be lodged with the local ATS agency.  The aircraft crew is required to report to the flight follower at intervals not exceeding one hour.  These calls shall include the current line number, position, aircraft status and the expected time of the next call.  The details of the report are noted by the flight follower in a flight following log.  If the aircraft is overdue or has missed two consecutive calls, the flight follower initiates the search and rescue procedures and proceeds in accordance with the Emergency Response Plan.

Essential Crew

There are no passengers permitted in the aircraft during flight.  Only the flight crew and any personnel directly involved with the survey operation are allowed to fly and be designated as essential crew.  Any crew members in addition to the pilots are thoroughly briefed on all flight safety procedures before the aircraft is moved.  Essential crew may include observers mandated by a civil aviation or military authority.

Safety Equipment

The aircraft will conform to the required equipment list as described in the aircraft's flight manual and applicable supplements, in addition to references 1 and 6 for VFR, IFR, night, and over water flights, as applicable.  This includes flight instruments, communication, and navigation equipment.  The pilot in-command shall also ensure that equipment is carried sufficient for the survival of each person on board, given the geographical area, the season of the year and anticipated seasonal climatic variations.  Each crew member is also provided with a personal EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) and a smoke hood/air filter.  When operating over water or offshore (IAGSA Safety Policy Manual definitions) the aircraft shall be equipped with a life raft of sufficient capacity to accommodate all persons on board and equipped with a sea survival kit; a personal floatation device for each person on board; and a functional radio capable of two way communication with flight watch and/or ATS.  During operations over cold water, a hyperthermia protection suit is provided for each person on board.

Dangerous Goods

Dangerous goods, as defined by IATA, shall not be carried on board company aircraft.

Aircraft Engineering and Maintenance

Aircraft Modifications

All aircraft modifications relating to the survey equipment are documented, installed, and maintained in accordance with airworthiness approvals granted by the civil aviation authority.

Maintenance Planning

The Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) is responsible for ensuring that all maintenance is performed in a timely manner in accordance with the aircraft and engine manufacturer's recommendations and the company´s Maintenance Control Manual under the authority of the company´s Approved Maintenance Organization.  In addition to the regular aircraft inspections, special inspections on the installed survey equipment and any other relevant stress areas are carried out bearing in mind that survey aircraft operate at low altitudes for extended periods of time.  Major maintenance tasks are carried out in an appropriately equipped hangar.  Weekly reports are submitted to company headquarters to facilitate maintenance tracking and planning.

Technical Publications

All technical publications are kept up-to-date with the latest Airworthiness Directives, and Service Bulletins incorporated.  The airframe, engine and propeller log books are kept up-to-date at the operations base.  An aircraft Journey Log is used to record the daily serviceability state and will also provide a record of daily flying totals.

Aircraft Spare Parts

Sufficient running spares are kept on hand to ensure continued aircraft serviceability.  Any other items required are ordered from approved suppliers who are required to attach a manufacturer´s release note to substantiate the authenticity of the part in accordance with the procedures described in the Maintenance Control Manual.

Airport Security

Every effort is made to provide a safe parking or storage area for the aircraft.  Chocks, tie down facilities, and hangars are utilized as required.  In high risk areas, tamper-proof, self adhesive, uniquely numbered seals are used on all doors and access panels.


All fuel is obtained from reputable sources.  The AME on site is responsible for ensuring quality control of the fuel and its issue.  Proper testing and filtering of the fuel for water and other contaminants prior to delivery to the aircraft tanks is checked and approved by the AME and the captain.  Fuel system anti-icing inhibitor is added as required.