HAI Safety Programs Help Reduce Operational Risks

 - February 12, 2021, 2:19 PM

In the wake of the recently issued high-profile NTSB probable cause report on the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, the Helicopter Association International (HAI) issued a comprehensive list of programs it produces or supports as part of its “360-degree” approach to safety.

“Most accidents are caused not by aircraft issues, but by people making mistakes, not following procedures, making poor decisions. We can lower the industry accident rate significantly by addressing these human factors,” said HAI president and CEO James Viola. “HAI continues to promote a 360-degree approach to reducing accidents, one that addresses culture, processes and training, and the appropriate use of technology to reduce aviation risk. We have the tools to reduce accidents to zero—let’s use them.”

HAI safety programs and tools include HAI Accreditation Program of Safety (HAI-APS), Land & Live, and HAI Aviation Reporting Program (HARP). It has also teamed with the FAA on Maintenance Malfunction Information Report (MMIR) and Rotorcraft Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (R-ASIAS) programs.

HAI-APS helps operators improve their safety culture, as well as identify the hazards and mitigate the risks inherent in their helicopter mission profiles. Participating operators are required to implement a safety management system (SMS), as well as adopt practices recommended for their specific mission.

Land & Live encourages the use of precautionary landings by helicopter pilots when flight conditions begin to deteriorate for any reason. This program educates pilots about their ability and responsibility to ensure flight safety and provides techniques for making a safe off-site landing. Operators learn how they can support their pilots in good aeronautical decision-making and can proactively pledge to support their decision to “land and live.” 

HARP, meanwhile, is a free aviation safety reporting portal that promptly directs users to the most appropriate reporting source for accidents, drone events, near–midair collisions, laser events, wildlife strikes, or other aviation hazards. The portal is used to generate data for agencies and organizations that oversee aviation safety.

The Maintenance Malfunction Information Report simplifies the process of submitting numerous FAA and warranty claim forms related to potential maintenance safety issues. Since its development in the 1980s, 476 operators and 766 individual users have submitted 136,800 reports through the application. HAI is working with the FAA to assess industry gaps and upgrade the tool to properly address current and future safety issues.

R-ASIAS takes de-identified data voluntarily contributed by operators that is then shared with researchers for additional insights on operational safety.  

HAI and other industry partners have also designed a number of safety tools. This includes the customizable Flight and Maintenance Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT) developed with NGFT Solutions that is used by 609 operators and 857 individuals to mitigate risk. To date, users have submitted 29,687 reports through the application. The tool is currently being expanded into an expansive suite of free, customizable safety tools optimized for mobile and offline use. Additional details are available at NGFT.com. 

Also developed in partnership is the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) for rotorcraft operators slated for rollout in March. HAI worked with the Air Charter Safety Foundation to develop the ASAP, which is targeted at small operators and provides third-party support for the reporting of aviation hazards and events.

In addition, HAI safety offers a number of outreach and education programs. The Spotlight on Safety (SOS) campaign, which provides third-party support for the reporting of aviation hazards and events, falls under this segment.

Likewise, the HAI Safety Awards recognize helicopter operators, pilots, and maintenance professionals who demonstrate a commitment to safety while successfully sustaining accident- and violation-free operations during the preceding calendar year. HAI also annually recognizes industry professionals with the Salute to Excellence Safety Award for their outstanding contributions in the promotion of safety and safety awareness through the international helicopter community.

HAI also organizes a program of 50-plus free safety education sessions during its annual Heli-Expo conference under its Rotor Safety Challenge. Many of these sessions are approved for FAA Wings and AMT continuing education credits.

Further, the association's UPAC Safety Guide for Operators focuses on best practices for power-line construction, utility patrol and inspection, and related maintenance operations. It also provides guidance to utilities in selecting qualified contractors for these highly technical operations. 

HAI also noted that it continues to work on ongoing industry and government advisory, committee, and rulemaking groups dealing with helicopter safety issues and is an active participant in both the Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST) and the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST).