US helicopter accidents at lowest level in 30+ years

US helicopter accidents at lowest level in 30+ years 13 Jan, 15, Source: USHST

A year ago, safety experts at the United States Helicopter Safety Team (www.USHST.org) declared that 2014 would be a pivotal year as the helicopter community worked to stem a discouraging increase in fatal and non-fatal accidents. A renewed safety education and communication effort succeeded in reversing the trend as U.S. helicopter accidents totaled 130 during 2014, the lowest total since the early 1980s.

“130 accidents during the year still is 130 too many,” explains USHST Government Co-Chair Jim Viola, “but we’re glad to see that the numbers are continuing to go down. More helicopter operators, pilots, instructors and mechanics across the country are learning how to better manage risk and are infusing their culture with effective safety habits. Safety messages from the USHST and the IHST are getting through at the grassroots level.”

According to preliminary data, total helicopter accidents decreased by 11 percent to 130 in 2014 compared to 146 in 2013 and fatal accidents decreased by 30 percent to 21 in 2014 compared to 30 in 2013. Compared to 2005 (the year before the IHST was established), total accidents are down 30 percent, from 185 to 130.

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Viola adds, “Our nationwide team of helicopter safety professionals are working on more initiatives for 2015 to keep pushing the number of accidents downward – – from new audio-visual presentations available on our web site to the development of safety resource centers in training classes around the country. We want to keep moving the accident total in the right direction.”

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The USHST and the International Helicopter Safety Team (www.IHST.org) promote safety and work to reduce accidents. The IHST organization was formed in 2006 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 (www.IHST.org) and on the IHST Facebook page.

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