U.S. Team Seeks To Pare Fatal Accidents by 20 Percent

 - April 11, 2016, 9:00 AM

The United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) is renewing its focus on reducing the fatal helicopter accident rate. Last month the USHST announced its “20 by 2020” campaign, a new goal of reducing the civil U.S. fatal helicopter accident rate by 20 percent by the end of 2019.

The industry-government partnership is targeting a reduction to 0.61 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours, which is 20 percent less than the average since 2009.  For a baseline comparison, the USHST is using a fatal accident rate of 0.76. This is the average fatal accident rate for the prior five years that have final and reliable data (2009-10 and 2012-14) derived from the FAA General Aviation Survey. For 2016 through 2019, the USHST will measure fatal accident rate progress and focus on actions that will help keep the rate in a consistent downward trend. The team will use these fatal accident maximum rates per 100,000 hour “mile markers” as guides to measure progress: 0.73 in 2016, 0.69 in 2017, 0.65 in 2018 and 0.61 in 2019. During the past 15 years, the helicopter fatal accident rate has trended downward, but it has been below 0.61 only twice and spiked in 2008 and 2013.

As part of its continuing effort to support a reduction in fatal accidents, the USHST will focus on the following:

  • Complete a thorough analysis of fatal accidents from 2009 to 2013 for the development of specific intervention recommendations.
  • Enhance its outreach to all helicopter industry areas, with special emphasis on personal/private flying, aerial agricultural application and emergency medical services.
  • Concentrate its efforts in the safety areas of personal protection, aircraft equipage, pilot judgment, pilot decision making and fostering a just culture.

Since 2013, the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team has focused on the U.S. civil helicopter community and fatal accidents. Through 2015, total accidents have fallen for the second year in a row and the helicopter accident rate has been cut by 52 percent from where it was 10 years ago. In addition, fatal accidents are down 41 percent and the fatal accident rate is down 60 percent from a decade ago.

More information about the USHST, the International Helicopter Safety Team, its reports, safety tools, and Reel Safety audio-visual presentations can be obtained at www.IHST.org.