The Sir James Martin Award

2022 Awarded to:  David Howson

Gretchen Haskins, CEO of HeliOffshore, summed up Dave Howson’s contribution to aviation safety as follows:

“Over a 30-year Civil Aviation Authority career, Dave has tirelessly championed and delivered safety improvements into the offshore helicopter sector by driving forwards an extensive research programme. The innovative technology, regulatory enhancements and safety promotion that he has influenced and delivered has undoubtedly reduced the likelihood of accidents and increased their survivability”.

Among many notable achievements, Dave secured funding to create algorithms that provide a timelier alert to helicopter pilots of the potential for obstacle, terrain, or water collision. This international programme involved participation from manufacturers, operators, energy companies and regulators, which Dave used to best effect through continuous engagement. Not content with a narrow implementation of the resultant Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (H-TAWS), Dave wrote it into an open-source design specification and championed its incorporation as a manufacturing standard. All the major rotary manufacturers have now committed to upgrading their software to implement H-TAWS, in recognition of its safety benefit. Simultaneously, in a further bid to reduce controlled flight into terrain events, Dave acted as the technical lead for several regulatory amendments relating to helideck safety. Resultant enhancements to deck lighting increase the ability of pilots to assess the state of the landing area, whilst improvements to netting reduce the risk of aircraft skidding, rolling, or pitching off the helideck.

HOWSON DavidIn addition to his determination to reduce accident likelihood, Dave has also dedicated himself towards increasing the survivability of such events. Research findings after the tragic 2013 Sumburgh helicopter accident indicated that the cold-water gasp reflex might prevent appropriate use of underwater breathing devices that require individuals to initiate airflow by taking a breath inward. In response, Dave campaigned for the introduction of ‘Enhanced Emergency Breathing Systems’ that actively drive air into the mouth. In recognition of the huge improvement to underwater survival chances these devices enable, they are now standard in the North Sea and are being adopted internationally.

In parallel, additional workstreams championed by Dave increased the likelihood of individuals expeditiously egressing a helicopter from above or below water. Output included amendments to regulations pertaining to the size of exits and the seating distribution of passengers to take account of biometrics and the burden of submersion suits, whilst research to understand conditions that reduce egress opportunities, including the chances of safe exit in rough seas, resulted in amendments to regulations relating to the weather parameters for safe flight.

It cannot be over-stated what an enormous contribution to safety in the offshore rotary sector Dave has made through his quiet but continuous determination. His motivation is selfless, his passion infectious and his fortitude relentless. The global offshore rotary community and its passengers would be significantly less safe without the dedication shown by Dave. As such, David Howson is a worthy recipient of the Sir James Martin Award.

Previous Winners:

1968/69  Lt Cdr Tarver

1969/70  Flt Lt R C Shuster

1971  not awarded

1971/72  Gp Capt J K Mason

1973  not awarded

1973/74  Col W P Schane

1975  not awarded

1975/76  Gp Capt A J Barwood

1976/77  E L Ripley Esq

1977/78  Flt Sgt D J Jones

1978/79  D Johnson Esq

1979/80  Lt Cdr D R Taylor MBE

1980/81  MALM David Bullock G C (posthumously)

1981/82  Geoffrey Harrison Esq

1983  not awarded

1983/84  Clifford Gaskell Esq

1985  not awarded

1985/86  Wg Cdr R McCluskey AFC RAF

1987  not awarded

1987/88  AVM P H Howard

1989  not awarded

1989/90  Lt Cdr Paul Barton RN

1991 - 1992  not awarded

1992/93  John W Chappelow Esq

1994  not awarded

1994/95  Flt Lt Kevin A Brooks

1995/96  Lt Cdr Paul Haywood RN

1997  not awarded

1997/98  Major J Norman Ryan MC

1998/99  Dr Christopher Brooks, OMM OstJ CD MBChB DavMed FFOM

1999/2000  Air Accidents Investigation Branch Lockerbie Team

2000/01  CPO Terrence Allison

2001/02 Lt Cdr Clive Rawson RN

2003  not awarded

2003/04  Sqn Ldr Jonathan James Harrison RAF

2004/05 Professor Helen Christine Muir OBE MA PhD CPsychol FRAeS

2005/06  John Freeman

2006/07  Captain John Cox

2008  not awarded

2008/09 Flt Lt Emily Rickards RAF

2009/10  David Cockburn

2010/11  Captain Linc Alexander

2011/12  Maj K E Bryan AAC

2013  not awarded

2013/14  Captain James Cunningham AAC

2014/15  Captain Mark Chesney

2016  The Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Research Project Team

2017  SkyDemon

2018  Dr Donough Wilson

2019  Lt Jonathan Moore RN

2020  814 NAS Survival Equipment Section

2021  Garmin

2022  David Howson