Safety, Philosophy & History

Safety is Our Foremost Priority

NorthStar Helicopters was founded in 1998 by a pioneer of helicopter glacier tours in Alaska, as a way of sharing the pristine, untouched wilderness of the Juneau Icefield through our top-rated helicopter glacier treks and tours. We have recently expanded and formed new partnerships, with Airboat Alaska and Alaska Heli Mush, to combine our top-notch flightseeing tours, strong safety culture and our award-winning guest care, with opportunities to further experience Alaska’s glaciers via airboat and dogsled.

We are committed to providing outdoor adventures tailored to the interests and abilities of each guest, with safety as our foremost priority. By employing an extremely professional and knowledgeable staff, utilizing the highest quality gear, and operating in accordance with our high safety standards, we continue to lead the industry in efficiency, reliability, and excellence. We take pride to ensure that each tour: 

  • limits the number of participants so that we can focus on each guest and provide a personalized experience, with a maximum guide-client ratio of 1:6;
  • is led by caring, knowledgeable staff who enjoy sharing their expertise; 
  • incorporates education about the unique environment you are visiting; 
  • provides guests with high quality gear; and
  • ensures safety as our utmost priority.

Our Safety Management System is a constantly improving set of programs, policies, practices and procedures aimed at preserving the health and welfare of our guests, our clients, and our employees, as well as protecting our other valuable resources such as aircraft, equipment, and facilities. In this pursuit, we continuously monitor the helicopter industry to learn “Best Practices” from around the world that might prove useful to our organization. We also actively participate in voluntary organizations such as the Helicopter Association International (HAI) (https://www.rotor.org/), the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) (https://www.faasafety.gov/), the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) (https://nbaa.org/flight-department-administration/sms/is-bao/), and the Tour Operator’s Program of Safety (TOPS). (www.topssafety.org)

We have a robust Safety Management System in place and the daily responsibility for the execution and management of this lies with the senior management, who are all committed to ensuring our staff has the necessary resources to provide safe, reliable and efficient aviation services. Whether those resources are time, training, equipment, personnel, or specific tools we will always invest in safety.

A key element of the NorthStar Safety Program is our online safety reporting system, which all employees are trained in the use of, and encouraged to utilize in an effort to report hazards or incidents.

Additionally, we have an extensive Emergency Response Plan that serves as a framework for our immediate response to events ranging from an overdue aircraft to a ground vehicle or aircraft accident. Our staff is trained in these types of scenarios and we conduct emergency preparedness drills throughout the year to ensure our readiness.

Our ultimate goal is to provide world class helicopter flight services to all who enter our facility. In this effort, we have established the following objectives:

  • Zero man-hours lost due to negligence or injury
  • No serious injury incidents to our guests or employees
  • Zero NTSB or FAA reportable incidents or accidents
  • Respond/acknowledge all safety reports within 24 hours of submission
  • No ramp maneuver incidents
  • Provide “Human Factors” training for all pilots and mechanics

Our employees are highly trained to make excellent safety related decisions in the office, the hangar, during pre-flight, on the ramp, in flight, while refueling, and when loading passengers or equipment. We strive to eliminate unintentional errors and honest mistakes. 

We operate AS350 series A-Star Helicopters. These turbine-powered helicopters are manufactured by Airbus Helicopters and are designed to comfortably transport up to six passengers, plus the pilot, all in a forward-facing position. The A-Star offers the widest cabin, smoothest ride, and best speed range in its class of helicopters. All of our aircraft are equipped with the following:

  • The latest 406-megahertz Emergency Locator Transmitters (or ELT’s)
  • High visibility rotor blades
  • Pulsating high conspicuity lighting to make ourselves more visible to traffic
  • FAA approved restraint systems (single release point, very similar to Airlines)
  • Emergency floats/OR Personal floatation devices
  • The latest navigational and traffic avoidance equipment
  • Satellite tracking system which is monitored by trained flight dispatchers at each of our bases

Additionally, we continuously monitor satellite and cellular based cameras to aid in determining weather conditions along our routes and in our destination areas.

Whether we are helping to fight forest fires, heli-skiing, or conducting our magnificent glacier tours, we actively look to identify hazards in our workplace environment. When hazardous or unsafe conditions are recognized, we endeavor to make informed decisions to eliminate the hazard or mitigate the risk. 

Safety is part of our company culture, it is a habit we work to instill in all our employees. At NorthStar, we consider ourselves “ambassadors” for our State and our community. As such, our clients, whether they be guests from around the world or contractors who live next door, will always receive the same level of safe, competent, professional aviation service.