The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) was rechartered during a signing ceremony at Heli-Expo on Tuesday. The IHST was formed in 2006 with the goal of reducing helicopter accidents by 80 percent over 10 years. While the IHST has fallen short of that goal, IHST co-chairs Matt Zuccaro, president of HAI, and Lance Gant, manager of the FAA’s rotorcraft directorate (Aircraft Certification Service), said it is important that the group’s work continue.
Zuccaro said that, thanks to the IHST’s work, “the safety culture and the awareness of safety has increased quite a bit over the last several years” and that ultimately no accidents “can be the only goal.”
Gant said the IHST's work has “raised awareness and has had a positive impact. We’ve seen some positive trends here in the United States and [elsewhere] where the IHST has had a presence.”
According to data provided by the IHST, before the group’s formation, the number of worldwide civil helicopter accidents was rising at a rate of 2.5 percent per year. Since 2006, the worldwide civil helicopter fleet has grown by 30 percent, but the number of accidents worldwide has decreased in key global regions from 24 to 50 percent and the accident rate in key regions has decreased within a range of 40 to 60 percent. In the U.S., the civil helicopter accident rate has been cut in half within the last 10 years, reaching 3.67 per 100,000 flight hours, using the comparison of the 2001-2005 baseline rate of 7.97 set by the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team. Total accidents have been reduced by 33 percent compared to the baseline; fatal accidents are down 41 percent and the fatal accident rate is down 61 percent compared to a decade ago.