The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) promotes safety and works to reduce accidents and fatalities through education and culture change. The 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, while the worldwide civil helicopter fleet has grown by 32 percent, the number of accidents worldwide has decreased on average by 25 to 30 percent.
The IHST promotes a wide-ranging safety outreach effort through four web sites – – worldwide (www.IHST.org), Europe, U.S.A., and Brazil – – and an active Facebook page and Twitter site.
Helicopter safety experts from across the industry gather under the IHST banner to collaborate on and develop a broad collection of safety materials that are shared across the globe. They include:
Comprehensive reports thoroughly analyzing accident causes and interventions for the United States, Europe and Canada
4 extensive safety Toolkits on SMS, training, technology, and maintenance
10 detailed Safety Leaflets looking at pilot decisions, advanced technology, and more
21 focused Safety Bulletins on topics ranging from autorotations to visibility issues
12 Reel Safety audio-visual presentations
18 Safety Fact Sheets
A new helicopter Flight Instructor Manual
More than 80 educational slide presentations
North America – United States
The United States Helicopter Safety Team (www.USHST.org) lends its expertise to both the international group and the U.S. helicopter community. As part of its educational efforts, the group has developed Toolkits, Safety Bulletins, Reel Safety presentations, Fact Sheets and numerous slide presentations.
As a consequence of this work in the U.S., the total number of civil helicopter accidents and the accident rate has been declining. 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 in the U.S. are down 30 percent, from 185 to 130.
In addition, during 2014, the U.S. civil helicopter industry experienced 3.64 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. This is a 26 percent reduction compared to 2013 and a 54 percent reduction compared to the 2001-05 baseline accident rate.
And the trend in 2015 continues to be positive. During the first six months of 2015, total accidents are down 28 percent compared to the same period last year. And compared to 2006, the number of accidents has been cut nearly in half.
North America – Canada
In Canada, the total number of accidents is low, although it has hit a plateau. There were 40 accidents in 2012, 27 accidents in 2013, 34 in 2014, and 17 accidents during the first half of 2015. But the highlight in Canada is the fact that throughout all of 2014 and for the first half of 2015, there were zero fatal helicopter accidents. That’s an exceptional 18-monthspan without a helicopter fatality.
The European Helicopter Safety Team (www.easa.europa.eu/essi/ehest/) has been just as vigorous in its pursuit of detailed analysis and extensive education to enhance the safety culture in numerous countries throughout the European continent. The group works closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency and has developed Toolkits in multiple languages, extensive Safety Leaflets, Fact Sheets and multiple slide presentations.
These efforts are bearing fruit in recent safety results. During the three-year span of 2009-11, there was an average of 118 civil helicopter accidents each year in the aggregate group of European countries. For the two-year period of 2013-14, the annual average is 101 accidents – a 14 percent decrease. Also during 2009-11, the average annual number of fatal accidents was 25. For the past two years, the number of fatal accidents has decreased by 20 percent to 20 per year.
In Brazil, even though the civil helicopter fleet is growing rapidly, during the past four years the number of accidents is declining. This coincides with an IHST-supported safety campaign that was launched in 2011 by the Brazilian Helicopter Safety Team (http://www.ihstbrasil.org/).
Measuring the number of accidents per 1,000 aircraft, the rate has improved from 17.5 in 2011 to 8.0 in 2014. Comparing the two years, in 2011, a fleet of 1,717 civil helicopters experienced 30 accidents while in 2014, a total of 2,510 helicopters had 20 accidents.
Looking Past 2016
Despite these safety accomplishments since 2006, the globe-spanning members of the IHST still have goals to meet beyond their original 10-year mission. During 2016, worldwide industry and government leaders plan to publicly renew their commitment to the reduction of accidents and fatalities and to the continuing enhancement of civil helicopter safety.More information about the IHST, its reports, safety tools, and its Reel Safety audio/video presentations can be obtained at its web site at www.IHST.org and on the IHST Facebook page.
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