Fourteen years of accident data from the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) reveal that U.S. civil helicopter accidents have decreased by approximately 25 percent since the IHST was established in 2006, with an average annual drop in accidents of around 2 percent.
Safety of emergency medical services flights
Metro Aviation announced Mark Breton will be joining the MRO as director of maintenance in late March or early April. He has more than 25 years in the aviation industry, with a strong background in aircraft maintenance, helicopter EMS operations and project management. Breton spent most of his career in Texas, but most recently served as the v-p and director of maintenance for Air Medical Resource Group in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Troubled by an increase in the number of helicopter accidents in the last several years, the FAA has launched the Rotorcraft Safety Initiative (RSI), an effort to curb helicopter fatal accidents.
From Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013, the U.S. helicopter industry experienced 38 fatal helicopter crashes, a 100-percent increase over the same period in 2011-2012. These accidents resulted in 76 fatalities, 95 percent more than the same period the year before and the highest number of fatal accidents since 1994.
Fresh pressure is being placed on the FAA to revise and finalize its 2010 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would mandate the installation of helicopter terrain avoidance and warning systems (HTAWS) and radar altimeters on all U.S. emergency medical service (EMS) helicopters. The NPRM drew a firestorm of criticism from affected stakeholders for favoring high-cost solutions over less expensive, and some argued, more effective safety technology such as night-vision goggles (NVGs).
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is stepping up efforts to improve helicopter operational safety after adding this to its Most Wanted list of goals for increased awareness and advocacy.
In a January 14 statement, the NTSB said that between January 2003 and May 2013 there were 1,470 helicopter accidents, resulting in 477 fatalities and 274 serious injuries. The Board is concerned that helicopter accidents will continue to happen unless a concerted effort is made to improve the safety of rotary-wing operations.
Contrary to the hopes of most French helicopter EMS operators, French doctors have issued a motion calling for the soon-to-be-mandatory second flight crewmember to be a trained paramedic. New rules at the European level will mandate such a second crewmember, for some operations, beginning in October next year.
The most noteworthy accident event in the first quarter was the string of fatal Beechcraft Premier I crashes over a period of approximately three weeks, from February 20 to March 17. All three crashes, which killed nine people, involved Part 91 operations and occurred in VMC during takeoff or landing. The two accidents in the U.S. accounted for the only fatalities by U.S.-registered business jets in the first quarter of this year.
For 2012, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) reported 148 rotorcraft accidents in the U.S. The 39 fatalities from those events were spread among three of the most consistently difficult sectors of helicopter operations: police; personal/private; and instructional/training flights.
In a recent letter, IHST member Lee Roskop said that the numbers simply reaffirm the uncomfortable reality that pilot lapses in judgment and decision making lead to most accidents.
If there is a drawback to the Internet, then it is the overwhelming amount of information being created and disseminated. Anyone interested in anything can find more articles, blogs, e-newsletters, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram photos, Pinterest pins etc. about any subject, more than one person could possibly consume in a lifetime. For those who work on aviation safety issues, this presents a problem.
A total of 290 air accidents were reported to Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) in 2012. This represented a 13-percent increase from the 2011 total of 257 but was comparable to the 2007-2011 average of 292. There were 42 fatal accidents with 63 fatalities in 2012. Of the 42 fatal accidents, 25 accidents involved fixed-wing airplanes (including 17 private and six commercial), seven fatal accidents involved helicopters (including five commercial) and eight fatal accidents involved ultralights.
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