String Of Accidents Challenges Helicopter Pilots

 - October 29, 2012, 12:45 PM

Helicopter pilots need to take more ownership of a steadily increasing number of accidents, according to the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST). In the seven-day period between October 10 and October 17 the industry reported four accidents that took the lives of seven people. Two accidents on the same day, October 10, claimed two lives, one in northeastern Pennsylvania and the other in central Louisiana. An October 12 night accident into a wooded area near Fredericksburg, Texas, claimed all three onboard, while five days later, another helicopter crashed and caught fire in Bucks County, Pa.

“As an industry, we need to focus on the expected, easy mission and on conventional risks, such as changes in weather [not just those that appear difficult],” said an IHST statement. “Many pilots are not evaluating the risk when they feel it is a standard, low-risk flight and the consequences of this mindset are tragic. One out of every five rotorcraft accidents occurs during routine general aviation/private flying, and another one out of five accidents occurs during instruction flights.”

The risk issues of night flying, weather, fatigue and stress are magnified for helicopters flying close to the ground.