Citing a “short-term surge” in fatal accidents, the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) is calling on pilots and operators to step up their safety efforts to ensure that the surge “does not stretch into a long-term trend.”
USHST said Thursday that, in the 10-day period that ended July 8, U.S. helicopters were involved in four fatal crashes — “the worst short-term surge in fatal accidents we’ve experienced within the past six years,” since four fatal crashes occurred within one week in late November and early December 2012. A fifth fatal crash occurred nine days later.
Of the four recent crashes, two occurred during private flights and two involved aerial observation missions. One fatality was attributed to each of the crashes.
“The series of fatal helicopter accidents is a reminder to our community: There is sometimes a fine line between a flight that ends uneventfully and one that ends disastrously,” USHST said.
In comments addressed to pilots, mechanics, operators, instructors and others in the U.S. helicopter community, USHST said, “In the wake of this recent surge in fatal accidents, let us take some time to think through how we can make sure the rest of the summer is spent with enjoyment rather than grief.”
USHST urged pilots to review basic procedures, think about how they would respond in emergencies, consider the effects of hot temperatures on aircraft performance, be especially aware of pilot fatigue and “practice real-time risk management, even with small decisions. Make a habit of mentally asking yourself, ‘What could go wrong with what I’m doing right now? What could I do to make sure the worst case scenario doesn’t kill me?’”