25-Feb-2014 Source: HAI
On Monday, February 24, 2014, the Helicopter Association International (HAI), the world’s leading advocate for the rotorcraft industry, launched an ambitious long-term campaign to improve the industry’s safety record by simply reminding pilots to take advantage of their aircraft’s unique capabilities, which allow them to land almost anywhere as part of their normal daily activities: Land & LIVE.
“I want to reintroduce the concept of the precautionary landing — a conscious, conscientious decision by the pilot to set the aircraft down before the situation becomes an emergency,” said HAI President Matt Zuccaro. “In other words, the pilot needs to land while he or she is still in command of the aircraft and not merely a passenger along for the ride.”
Land & LIVE was born out of a sense of frustration that so many helicopter accidents are preventable and is based on a simple premise: that short of a catastrophic mechanical failure, making a precautionary landing will break most accident chains. But the decision has to be made before a situation has become an emergency. And too many pilots either don’t consider such a landing as part of their safety checklist or wait too long before making the decision.
Part of Land & LIVE’s message is aimed at helicopter operators — the companies that employ the pilots — and at first responders who may receive the call that a helicopter has landed in a local park or at a school.
“Pilots have to know not only that their bosses are committed to safety, but that they will back them up if the pilot makes a safety-based decision to terminate a flight and make a precautionary landing rather than completing the mission in less-than-safe conditions,” said Zuccaro. “And we want to offer some guidelines to authorities on the ground who are faced with the unexpected arrival of a helicopter.”
HAI has developed a micro-site, LandAndLive.rotor.org (no “www”), with information and guidelines for pilots, operators, and first responders. It includes analyses of six accidents in which a precautionary landing would almost certainly have broken the accident chain, and information on picking a suitable landing spot. For operators, the site includes suggested language about precautionary landings that can be added to an operations manual. And it has information about a pilot’s rights and responsibilities regarding safety of flight, as well as how a first responder can assist a pilot who has just made a precautionary landing. In addition, pilots and operators will be able to “take the pledge” to make precautionary landings part of their safety tool kit and print a certificate that they can display for their passengers and customers.
During HELI-EXPO 2014, HAI will host a special Rotor Safety Challenge session in the Anaheim Convention Center’s Ballroom C, on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 3:00 p.m. HAI’s Zuccaro and the Operations Department will discuss why precautionary landings are such an important safety tool and give real-life examples of accidents in which landing the aircraft would almost certainly have broken the accident chain.
After HELI-EXPO, HAI will take the Land & LIVE message on the road as part of its safety outreach program conducted jointly with the FAA Safety Team.
When pilots train, they are taught to look for and recognize incipient emergencies and react accordingly. Yet when pilots are asked why they didn’t make a precautionary landing, many say it was never part of their decision making. Anecdotal evidence suggests there are three basic reasons why pilots don’t consider precautionary landings: fear of FAA enforcement action, fear of company punitive action, and fear of losing face with passengers and fellow pilots.
Yet evidence indicates that no pilot who made a legitimate precautionary landing has ever faced enforcement action. And with more and more operators adopting safety management systems based on a “just culture” that invites employees to share safety concerns without fear of retribution, fewer pilots have reason to fear punitive action. The last fear — fear of being viewed negatively for their decision by passengers and fellow pilots — is in part what Land & LIVE seeks to address. Pilots need to see that making a precautionary landing is a mark of professionalism, not of weakness.
“Just last month, the National Transportation Safety Board members put helicopter safety on their Most Wanted List, and looking at accident records, it’s clear they have a legitimate reason to focus on helicopter safety,” concluded Zuccaro. “HAI, too, has safety as our primary mission. The good thing is that, in the precautionary landing, we have a powerful tool that can break most accident chains. With such a powerful tool and a unique aircraft that can land almost anywhere, why wouldn’t a pilot choose to Land & LIVE?”