FAA data reveals decrease in helicopter accidents for third consecutive year
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data has revealed that US helicopter accident rate and fatal helicopter accident rate have decreased continuously for the third consecutive year.
Last year, the overall accident rate reduced to an average of 3.19 accidents every 100,000 flight hours, compared to a rate of 3.67 in 2015.
The fatal accident rate fell to 0.51 accidents every 100,000 flight hours in 2016, compared to 0.52 accidents in 2015.
In 2016, there were 106 helicopter accidents, which included 17 fatal accidents.
FAA administrator Michael Huerta said: “The FAA and the helicopter industry have worked together to educate the civil helicopter community about safe practices, to drive these improved results.
“The FAA and the industry also are taking an active role in advancing safety through new technology, collaborative policy changes and proactive outreach.”
The federal organisation has collaborated with the helicopter industry to implement new measures in a bid to prevent accidents.
Helicopter companies and individual pilots were encouraged to report unsafe working conditions, as well as design safety training programmes for employees.
The Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment policy issued by the US federal agency in 2013 enables operators and manufacturers to incorporate safety equipment through streamlined and less expensive approval process.
Several technological upgrades have been introduced to promote flight safety, such as the automatic dependent surveillance broadcast system (ADS-B) has been mandated by the FAA to be deployed on US helicopters by 1 January 2020.
The satellite-based ADS-B technology will offer three-dimensional information about a helicopter’s location, direction and size.
The new helicopters are manufactured with features to prevent post-crash fires, injuries and threats from bird-strikes.
Commercial helicopter operators, air ambulances and air taxis have issued stringent flight rules and procedures, along with enhancing communications, training and on-board safety equipment.