The U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) has developed a new recommended practices document focusing on “spatial disorientation induced by a degraded visual environment” and offering training and decision-making solutions. The USHST notes that from 2000 to 2019 in the U.S., there were 130 fatal accidents directly linked to spatial disorientation that occurred regardless of pilot experience or mission type.
Its recommended practices focus on training and decision-making actions, including the avoidance of inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC), preflight planning that includes en route decision processes, in-aircraft training that simulates a lack of visibility, and training of recovery techniques and committing to instruments.
“For decades, studies, articles, research papers, and discussions have been published theorizing why accidents related to degraded visual environments consistently occur and it has been hard to find clear answers that can slow or stop these tragic accidents,” said USHST industry co-chair Nick Mayhew. “In part, the accidents stem from failed planning, lack of understanding, or poor decision-making. All pilots have the option to turn down a flight before launch, turn around, proceed to an alternate, or land in a safe place if the weather deteriorates below company or personal minimums, yet we continue to see these types of accidents.”