The International Helicopter Safety Foundation (www.IHSF.aero) has compiled data from its fifth annual survey of civil helicopter operators located in key regions around the world in order to gain a broader understanding of where crucial safety initiatives are being implemented.  IHSF received more than 1,900 responses to the survey from 112 different countries. Participation in the survey increased by 49 percent compared to a year ago.

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

  • Structured programs to fully comply with manufacturers’ recommended

Maintenance practices,

  • A structured program for initial and recurrent Training,
  • The implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS),
  • The implementation of manual Health & Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS),
  • Installation of Wire Strike prevention systems,
  • The implementation of Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) programs,
  • The implementation of automated Health & Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS),
  • Usage of Night Vison systems when warranted.

The 2019-20 IHSF survey looked at where these best practices were followed within specific segments of the helicopter industry and within regions around the world.  Overall use of these eight “tools” in 2019 was 65 percent.  This is an increase from 62 percent in 2018 and 59 percent in 2017.

In addition, the sectors of Helicopter Air Ambulance, Offshore/Oil operations and Law Enforcement have implemented the key recommended safety practices most comprehensively compared to other industry areas.  The lowest implementation occurs in Personal/Private flying and in the TV/Radio News Gathering segment of the industry.

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

Industry Segments From Highest to Lowest Adherence to Recommended Safety Practices

1) Air Ambulance                         8) Air Taxi/Charter

2) Offshore/Oil                             9) Aerial Observation

3) Law Enforcement                   10) Business Aviation

4) Utilities/Construction             11) Air Tours/Sightseeing

5) Firefighting                             12) Agricultural Application

6) External Load                         13) TV/Radio News Gathering

7) Instruction/Training                14) Personal/Private

Within key regions of the world, application of the best safety practices is increasing overall, but usage varies from country to country.  According to the survey, here is a breakdown highlighting greater usage and lesser usage of the key safety recommendations:

Greater Usage                                         Lesser Usage

United States           Night Vision, Wire Strike                     HUMS

Canada                    Flight Data Monitoring, HUMS            Night Vision

Australia                  Structured Maintenance                        Flight Data Monitoring, HUMS

Brazil                      Wire Strike                                             Night Vision, SMS

Mexico                    Flight Data Monitoring, Wire Strike     Night Vision

France                     Safety Mgmt Systems, Training           Wire Strike

United Kingdom     Structured Maintenance                        Wire Strike, Flight Data Monitoring

Germany                 Maintenance, SMS                                Wire Strike

The detailed report for the IHSF safety initiative survey can be found on the “Survey Results” page on its web site:  http://ihsf.aero/index.php/survey-results/

A full set of slides for the report can be found on the “Presentations” page of the web site: http://ihsf.aero/index.php/presentations/

More information about the IHSF, its reports, safety tools, Reel Safety audio/video presentations and YouTube safety videos can be obtained at its web site at www.IHSF.aero and on the IHSF Facebook page.