The United States Helicopter Safety Team (www.USHST.org), has gathered U.S. civil helicopter accident data for the 10-year period of 2004 to 2013 in order to determine year-to-year and month-to-month trends.
As expected, when warmer weather arrives during the spring and summer months, helicopter operations and missions increase and the number of accidents rise. For the 10-year period between 2004 and 2013, listed here are the average number of total accidents and fatal accidents occurring each month:
8.6 9.4 11.8 10.9 16.6 15.2 20.1 15.3 16.0 12.6 10.8 8.8
1.5 1.7 1.8 1.3 2.1 2.4 3.4 3.0 2.5 2.6 2.4 2.1
As warm weather arrives in most of the United States, helicopter operations increase and so do accidents. The months of May and September are bookends for the peak period of the year and the month of July averaged 20 accidents during the past 10 years. In addition, July averages three to four fatal helicopter accidents each year making it the deadliest month for helicopter operations.
As the busy season of helicopter operations approaches, pilots are urged to focus on proper preparation and a careful and prudent attitude every time they fly. They should pay special attention to weather and visibility issues and to all possible operational risks, even during the most routine flights. Hopefully, rising temperatures during the spring and summer won’t also mean rising accident rates.
The USHST and the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) promote safety and work to reduce accidents. The IHST organization was formed in 2005 to lead a government and industry cooperative effort to address factors that were affecting an unacceptable helicopter accident rate.
Prior to 2006, the number of worldwide civil helicopter accidents was rising at a rate of 2.5 percent per year. Since 2006, the number of accidents worldwide has been decreasing by an annual rate of 2 percent.
More information about the IHST, its reports, safety tools, and presentations from its 2014 safety symposium can be obtained at its web site at www.IHST.org and on the IHST Facebook page.
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