The U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) today warned that the U.S. helicopter industry is heading toward its highest annual fatal accident rate in more than a decade, already recording 15 fatal accidents with 27 fatalities in the first six months of 2019. The USHST notes that is already on par with 2013 when 30 fatal helicopter accidents were recorded, but cautioned that the rate could go even higher, as July historically posts the highest number of rotorcraft accidents during the calendar year.
Figuring in that history, the USHST warns that “the industry also is at risk to reach the total from 2008, when there were 35 fatal helicopter accidents. With half of 2019 completed and another six months to go, the U.S. helicopter industry is experiencing a year of tragic accidents with too many lives being lost.”
The USHST is calling on operators, pilots, instructors, and mechanics to “rely on safety basics and place a stronger emphasis on identifying and managing risk.” The USHST is calling on the industry to focus on basics, including fuel management, adequate pre-flight inspections, adherence to checklists, understanding the impact of over-the-counter medications, avoiding flying VFR in IFR conditions (scud running), not succumbing to “get-there-itis,” and learning when to abort missions en route.