The National Transportation Safety Board, in a safety recommendation report issued Tuesday called on helicopter manufacturers to equip turbine-powered helicopters with crash-resistant systems to record data, audio, and images.
The NTSB asked the manufacturers – Airbus Helicopters, Bell, Leonardo, MD Helicopters, Robinson and Sikorsky – to act since the Federal Aviation Administration has not implemented a series of NTSB recommendations made in 2013 and 2015. Those recommendations were issued after NTSB investigators found the lack of recorded data hindered their understanding of several crashes that could have serious flight safety implications.
Helicopters meeting specific criteria established by the FAA are required to have crash-resistant systems to record flight data and cockpit audio. None are currently required to have image recording capability. Despite the lack of action from the FAA, some helicopter operators have equipped their aircraft with recording systems, including image recording capability, even though they are not required to do so.
“The more information we have, the better we can understand not only the circumstances of a crash, but what can be done to prevent future accidents,” said Dana Schulze, Director of the NTSB Office of Aviation Safety. “We are asking that currently available recording technology be put to use in a way that will improve aviation safety.”
The NTSB cited seven helicopter investigations between 2011 and 2017 in which the lack of access to recorded data impeded their ability to identify and address potential safety issues.
They also identified five accidents in which investigators had the benefit of recorded data that was critical to understanding the circumstances of the crashes. The findings and analysis of these investigations resulted in three NTSB urgent recommendations and led the FAA to issue an emergency airworthiness directive affecting an entire fleet of helicopters.
Although the FAA declined to mandate recorders on those helicopters not already required to have them, they said they encouraged operators since 2005 to install the equipment on a voluntary basis. The NTSB, however, said since 86 percent of the 185 turbine-powered helicopter accidents it investigated between 2005 and 2017 had no recording equipment installed, the FAA actions were ineffective.
In addition to asking manufacturers to install crash-resistant recorders on newly built helicopters, the NTSB also asked them to provide a means to retrofit their helicopters with crash-resistant systems capable of recording flight data, cockpit audio and images on their helicopters not already so equipped.
“The data these recorders can provide to investigators are data that can prevent accidents by allowing us to address safety issues that might otherwise go unidentified,” said Schulze.
Editor note – we are unclear why Enstrom were not contacted by NTSB as they build the turbine-engined 480 model.
- First flights for new Babcock oil and gas contract
- NHV awarded offshore contract by Shell UK and NAM
- SAFE wins MH-65 maintenance platform contract at UCSG Elizabeth City
- WAI 2021 Scholarship Applications are now open
- Airbus H160 receives EASA approval
- HeliValue$ leads the way with remote helicopter appraisals
- Horizon International Flight Academy Logs More Than 1,000 Flight Hours in its Bell 505 Fleet
- Sikorsky awarded $470M contract for six VH-92 helicopters
- Sikorsky awarded $12M contract modification for CH-53K work
- PAS MRO awarded $9M contract to overhaul UH-60 tip caps
- Rolls-Royce awarded $62M for AE1107C engines for US Navy V-22
- Bell wins $8M contract with Bahrain for AH-1Z flight training device
- Safran to support Dutch Cougar engines
- Consultation under way for Sydney CBD helipad
- US Navy receives first fleet CMV-22B
- Three new helicopters for police in Republika Srpska
- Morocco Orders 24 Boeing AH-64E Apache Helicopters
- Airbus adds 250 helicopters to HCare Smart and Infinite contracts
- Akima Awarded task order for helicopter maintenance at Fairchild AFB
- Gardner Standard Announces the Acquisition of Shadin Avionics