IHST survey underscores safety strengths and weaknesses in helicopter industry

International Helicopter Safety Team Press Release | April 3, 2018

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 13 seconds.

The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) has compiled data from its third annual survey of civil helicopter operators located in key regions around the world in order to gain a broader understanding of where safety initiatives are being implemented. Participation in the survey more than doubled compared to previous years.

The IHST’s worldwide regional teams have analyzed more than 1,000 helicopter accidents and have concluded that the following seven areas offer the best opportunities to prevent helicopter accidents:

  • The implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS);
  • A structured program for initial and recurrent training;
  • The implementation of Health & Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS);
  • The implementation of Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) programs;
  • Structured programs to fully comply with manufacturers’ recommended maintenance practices;
  • Installation of Wire strike prevention systems; and
  • Usage of Night Vision systems when warranted

The 2017 to 2018 IHST survey looked at where these best practices were followed within specific segments of the helicopter industry and within regions around the world.

Overall, the key recommended safety practices have been implemented most comprehensively by operators in the sectors of helicopter air ambulance, law enforcement and offshore/oil operations. The lowest implementation occurs in the personal/private segment of the industry and in TV/radio news gathering.

From the survey, here is the complete list of segments most following to least following the best practices:

  1. Air ambulance
  2. Law enforcement
  3. Offshore/Oil
  4. Firefighting
  5. External load
  6. Utilities/Construction
  7. Air Taxi/Charter
  8. Aerial observation
  9. Agricultural application
  10. Business aviation
  11. Air tours/Sightseeing
  12. Personal/Private
  13. TV/Radio News Gathering

The IHST says within key regions of the world, application of the best safety practices is patchy. According to the survey, here is a breakdown highlighting greater usage and lesser usage of the key safety recommendations:

Greater Usage

  • United Kingdom — Training, SMS
  • France — Maintenance
  • Germany — Maintenance
  • United States — Training, HUMS
  • Canada — HUMS, Maintenance
  • Mexico — HUMS, SMS
  • Brazil — SMS
  • Australia — SMS
  • New Zealand — Training

Lesser Usage

  • United Kingdom — FDM, Wire Strike
  • France — HUMS
  • Germany — SMS
  • United States — FDM
  • Canada — Night Vision, Wire Strike
  • Mexico — Night Vision
  • Brazil — HUMS, Wire Strike
  • Australia — FDM
  • New Zealand — HUMS, Wire Strike

The detailed report for the IHST safety initiative survey can be found on the “Repository” page on its website.

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