While the overall number of turbine helicopter accidents in the U.S. declined last year to 62 from 69 in 2009, those accidents were more costly in terms of human life, according to statistics released by Boca Raton-based industry safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates.
The rotorcraft industry experienced 38 deaths in 2009, 10 more than in the previous year. The EMS segment saw the worst erosion in terms of safety, with 14 fatalities (resulting from five single-engine rotorcraft crashes) in 2010 compared with six deaths from two fatal crashes in the previous year.
In the twin-engine category, while the total number of accidents decreased from 15 to 12 year-over-year, 2010 saw one more fatal accident than in 2009. The total number of fatalities remained static at 11 each year. The corporate/executive twin-engine segment experienced two fatal crashes resulting in eight deaths, after seeing no accidents in 2009, while the photo/TV segment, which recorded no accidents in 2009, saw two nonfatal accidents last year.
Single-engine turbine helicopters saw an increase in the number of fatal accidents from eight to 12 year-over-year, despite a reduction in the total number of accidents. EMS operations had three additional fatal crashes with more than double the number of casualties experienced by the segment in 2009.
Government- and police-operated single-engine helicopters saw the total number of accidents decline from 10 (none fatal) in 2009 to six last year, two of which resulted in five deaths. The single-engine training segment saw the most improvement. In 2009, training operations resulted in six crashes including two fatal, while last year saw just two nonfatal accidents.