US Team’s New Safety Steps Target Fatal Accidents

By James T. McKenna | August 14, 2017
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Helicopter pilot checking the flight manual before a take off. Helicopter is on the ground with bright sunlight.

File photo

A team of U.S. safety specialists is preparing to roll out nearly two dozen new measures aimed at reducing fatal accidents in the country.

Members of the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team last week conducted a concluding review of 22 “safety enhancements” in meetings at the FAA Technical Center at New Jersey’s Atlantic City International Airport. They approved the final wording of most of those enhancements Aug. 9, according to individuals involved in the effort. They propose a range of measures, from minor ones that should be easy to implement to major steps, including revisions to FAA publications, that could take several years.


Those measures are based on the team members’ review of 52 fatal accidents from 2009 to 2013. The team is a subset of the International Helicopter Safety Team, which was launched in late 2005 with the goal of achieving an 80% reduction in helicopter accidents worldwide by 2016. The effort made some improvements in the industry safety record, but fell short of that goal.

The enhancements are to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Finishing touches on them come as the U.S. team said the civil accident and fatal accident rate in the country rose slightly in the first half of this year. From January through June, the team said, the accident rate totaled 3.37 per 100,000 flight hours and the fatal rate was 0.58, compared to 3.16 and 0.51, respectively, in the first half of 2016. “This breaks a downward trend in helicopter accidents since 2013,” said the team.

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