IHST Reformulates Helo Safety Goal: Zero Tolerance Equals Zero Accidents

 - January 3, 2014, 12:35 AM

The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) reformulated its safety goal, from reducing the number of helicopter accidents at a global level by 80 percent between 2006 and 2016 to “Zero tolerance, zero accidents,” John Black, co-chairman of the Ehest (the European chapter of the IHST), said at the EASA Rotorcraft Symposium.

“We won’t attain the IHST’s initial objective but we have to keep the momentum,” Michel Masson, Ehest secretary, told AIN. “We needed an ambitious target, an aspiration, a quest that would motivate all players and gather energies”.

The move prompted mixed reactions among attendees. Peter Norton, chief executive of the British Helicopter Association, expressed concern that the target is “unachievable and unrealistic.” Rather, the industry should pursue a reduction in the rate of accidents per flight hour, he said. “Otherwise you will spend a lot of time on unpreventable accidents,” Norton warned.

John Steel, director for the IHST in Europe, retorted that zero accidents has always been an unachievable target. “But ‘as low as reasonably applicable’ is achievable and should be our goal if we want to be publicly acceptable,” he said. The industry has to aim at the reformulated target, “otherwise we will take our eye off the ball,” he argued.

Ending the Ehest’s presentation on a not-so-encouraging note, Stefan Becker, representing the European HEMS and air ambulance committee, said a 2013 survey by Eurocopter Training Services indicated that approximately 80 percent of the trainees, who all received the IHST and EHEST material, never read or used it.