The NTSB announced two helicopter safety alerts during last week’s Heli-Expo show in Anaheim, Calif. Each alert was supplemented by a short video production. One alert focuses on improving helicopter safety through the use of advanced flight simulators, while the other considers the critical role of maintenance technicians in the overall safety of flight operations.
The Southern California Safety Institute (SCSI) is running a cabin accident investigation class focused on the safety and survivability aspects of major transport aircraft cabins. Participants in the April 14-18 course in Long Beach will learn the requirements for interviewing survivors and documenting the cabin for deficiencies, injuries sustained during the aircraft accident, escape from the aircraft and survivability in the post-crash environment.
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.
The EASA is considering increasing the time in which a pilot is expected to respond to engine failure in a single-engine helicopter, to align certification standards with real-world human performance. The new standard, if adopted, would require helicopters to be designed so that the pilot has more time to respond before a decay in rotor rpm takes the machine into hazardous dynamic territory. A study by Dutch aerospace research center NLR shows that this would add weight and cost.
The NTSB is engaging with the rotorcraft community to reduce accidents involving helicopters, agency chairman Deborah Hersman told Heli-Expo attendees yesterday. One of the NTSB’s “10 Most Wanted” safety recommendations for 2014 is to address the unique factors of helicopter operations, to promote industry safety.
Naasco Northeast (Booth No. 1433) emphasized the availability of its Mercury Mod-Phase Two starter generator upgrade at Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim.
“A higher-flow fan brings the cooling air down about 70 degrees lower than the original Mercury Mod, introduced 19 years ago,” Naasco vice president Jim Leslie told AIN. Work began two years ago on Mercury Mod 2, with Naasco working with engineers at Sikorsky on the S-76.
“Implementing recommended safety improvements that address helicopter operations can mitigate risk for thousands of pilots and passengers each year,” said NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman, referring to the recently released NTSB Safety Alert SA-031. “At this week’s Heli-Expo, we are working with HAI to increase awareness and identify voluntary action taken by key stakeholders to improve the safety of helicopter operations.”
Paul Ratté, insurance underwriter USAIG’s director of aviation safety programs and a former Coast Guard helicopter pilot and station commander, called for additional layers of organizational support for first-responder missions during his HAI safety challenge presentation here yesterday.
Houston-based ForeFlight (Booth No. 3603), creator of ForeFlight Mobile iPad app, is here at Heli-Expo showcasing features in the app it claims helicopter pilots “can’t live without.”
These features include subscription-free ADS-B weather; hazard overlays; and a color-coded flight rules feature that provides basic weather conditions information at a glance. The information can be used for pre-flight preparation or en route, when ADS-B IN weather is available or using an inflight Internet connection.
Chris Horton, the recipient of the 2014 AgustaWestland Safety Award, is on a mission to “make safety sexy,” primarily to better reach his generation of pilots. “We’re pretty much glued to our iPhones, iPads, Facebook, Twitter,” he told AIN. “We get our news from social media. Safety education can be done that same way.” At 27, Horton is likely the youngest person to ever receive the HAI safety award.