The U.S. helicopter safety team (USHST) last week said the current accident rate of 3.94 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, measured over the first seven months of this year, represents a 51-percent decline compared with the 2001-2005 baseline determined by the International Helicopter Safety Team, the group’s parent organization. These numbers represent a 22-percent reduction compared with the 5.06 rate posted for 2009 alone and a 12-percent reduction from the 4.46 rate posted for 2012.
Mercy Air helicopter accident
Following recent crashes of EMS helicopters in Illinois and Iowa in December last year and this January, the FAA issued a revised Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin covering recommendations for rotorcraft flying into snowy or icy conditions.
Hawaii’s highly changeable, localized weather could be a factor in the fatal crash of another air-tour helicopter. The NTSB is investigating the November 10 crash of a new Eurocopter EC130B4 EcoStar on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. The EcoStar was operated by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, the launch customer for the EcoStar in 2001, and was owned by a Nevada leasing company.
Bell 206-L4, Sabine Pass, Texas, Dec. 11, 2008–The LongRanger crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, killing the pilot and four passengers, as a result of the commercial pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from the water, according to the NTSB. A contributing factor was the Part 135 flight’s inadvertent encounter with IMC conditions.
According to the Safety Board, on-demand Part 135 operations had the lowest number of accidents and fatal accidents last year compared with any other time in the past two decades. Part 135 operations reported 47 accidents, down from 58 in 2008, while fatalities also decreased to 17 in 2009 from 69 in 2008. Despite the lower flight activity last year, the on-demand accident rate decreased to 1.63 per 100,000 flight hours from 1.81 in 2008.
Preliminary 2009 aviation accident statistics released by the NTSB late last week show an overall decrease in aviation accidents for general aviation and on-demand Part 135 operations. According to the Safety Board, on-demand Part 135 operations had the lowest number of accidents and fatal accidents last year compared with any other time in the past two decades.
Air Methods has petitioned the NTSB to revise its probable cause findings related to the fatal midair collision between an Air Methods Bell 407 and a Classic Helicopters Bell 407 on approach to Arizona’s Flagstaff Medical Center on June 29 last year. The NTSB found the probable cause of the accident was “both helicopter pilots’ failure to see and avoid the other helicopter on approach to the helipad.