Troubled by an increase in the number of helicopter accidents in the last several years, the FAA has launched the Rotorcraft Safety Initiative (RSI), an effort to curb helicopter fatal accidents.
From Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013, the U.S. helicopter industry experienced 38 fatal helicopter crashes, a 100-percent increase over the same period in 2011-2012. These accidents resulted in 76 fatalities, 95 percent more than the same period the year before and the highest number of fatal accidents since 1994.
“We are focusing on cutting fatal accidents,” said Lance Gant, assistant manager for the FAA’s rotorcraft directorate at the recent EASA rotorcraft symposium. By type of operation, the personal/private, commercial and EMS sectors account for 50 percent of the fatal accidents. Aerial application and training account for a combined 11 percent of fatal helicopter accidents. “We are looking for ideas,” Gant said, pointing out that the light fixed-wing industry has benefited in recent years from such technology as airbags and expressing hope the rotorcraft industry could benefit from similar innovations. The FAA will evaluate the results of the RSI team’s report–scheduled to be delivered last month–and decide on next steps, he said.