The best way to describe civil helicopter safety in the United States today is “So far, so good.” Total accidents are down 17 percent during the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period last year. In addition, according to the United States Helicopter Safety Team (www.USHST.org), the number of fatal accidents has been cut in half compared to a year ago.
From January 2014 through June 2014, there were 62 civil helicopter accidents occurring in the United States compared to 75 total accidents during the same months of 2013. During the first half of 2014, there were nine fatal helicopter accidents resulting in 15 fatalities. This compares to 18 fatal accidents during 2013 that resulted in 41 fatalities.
July, August and September will continue to be a peak time for helicopter operations and that usually translates into a peak time for accidents, but the early part of 2014 is showing a downward trend and some optimism about improved safety in the helicopter community.
The USHST is calling for a renewed emphasis on operational safety during the “deadly” month of July as well as for the rest of the summer months. The number of fatal accidents in July nearly always surpasses the average number of fatal accidents during the other 11 months of the year. Approximately 30 percent more accidents occur during July compared to the warm months of June, August, or September, and 25 percent more fatal accidents occur during July compared to June, August and September.
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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