U.S. Helicopter Accidents Are Mainly in the West, South

 - May 26, 2014, 1:00 PM

As part of its ongoing mission to reduce accidents, the United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) analyzed, by state, data from U.S. civil helicopter accidents that occurred between 2008 and 2013.

In recently published findings, the group showed that the majority of accidents occurred in the west and south of the nation. During the six-year period USHST reviewed, 108 accidents occurred in California, of which 16 were fatal, while Texas experienced 91 accidents, and 14 of these were fatal. Nationally there were 857 civil helicopter accidents in the U.S. during the six-year period with the top eight states accounting for 426 of these accidents, almost half of the total. The other six states (in descending order of accident numbers) were: Florida, Arizona, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Louisiana. Across the country, there were 155 total fatalities, 65 of which occurred in the top eight states, accounting for 42 percent of the total.

USHST identified a troubling trend in the fatal accident data too; many of the accidents occurred on what would normally have been considered routine flights. The most prevalent types of flying correlated to fatal accidents showed that in these eight states, private flying accounted for 12, repositioning flights 10, cargo passenger flights 9, aerial observation 8 and emergency medical services (EMS) 6.

Before the formation of the team in 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 declining by 2 percent annually.