Citing the U.S. FAA’s failure to implement its recommendations made in 2013 and 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a safety recommendation report on Tuesday calling for helicopter manufacturers to equip turbine-powered helicopters with crash-resistant systems to record data, audio, and images. Specifically, it asked Airbus Helicopters, Bell, Leonardo, MD Helicopters, Robinson, and Sikorsky to act on its recommendations issued after NTSB investigators found the lack of recorded data hindered their understanding of several crashes that could have flight safety implications.
Helicopters meeting specific criteria established by the FAA are required to have crash-resistant systems to record flight data and cockpit audio, but none are currently required to have image recording capability, the NTSB said. Some helicopter operators have equipped their aircraft with recording systems, including image recording capability, even though they are not required to do so, it added.
“The more information we have, the better we can understand not only the circumstances of a crash but what can be done to prevent future accidents,” said NTSB Office of Aviation Safety director Dana Schulze. “We are asking that currently available recording technology be put to use in a way that will improve aviation safety.”
According to the NTSB, the lack of access to recorded data in seven helicopter investigations between 2011 and 2017 impeded investigators’ ability to identify and address potential safety issues. It also identified five accidents in which investigators had access to recorded data that was critical to understanding the circumstances of the crashes.