While paradoxically rarely mentioned in legislation, helicopters represent the preferred and safest method of platform evacuation, provided they are available In the North Sea, both commercial and official helicopters are used, and they would only be ineffective due to weather on less than 3% of occasions. The evacuation of 6 typical North Sea platforms was simulated by computer, and in the worst cases the platforms saw offshore based machines in action within one hour, joined by shore based helicopters in the second hour, with evacuation complete inside 3 hours. Recent precautionary evacuations where helicopters were used support the simulation results. These methods can be used by platform operators in evaluating evacuation as part of formal safety assessments.

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