What is the issue?

The helicopter industry is experiencing more and more challenges. Probably the most serious one is the accident rate, which remains significantly higher than in fixed-wing and has not decreased for several years. Helicopter operations are very different from fixed-wing, helicopter pilots often operating in dangerous situations (search and rescue), emergencies (helicopter emergency medical services) and unfriendly environments (firefighting). A further challenge is that the helicopter industry seriously lacks harmonised rules in Europe that would help improve safety levels. Many types of operations remain a competence of the States, who are not bound by European safety rules and sometimes prefer to regulate to the minimum level.

Why is the issue important to ECA?

ECA is the representative body of all European pilots, including some 1,500 helicopter pilots. As challenges faced by helicopter pilots are mainly safety challenges, it is ECA’s task to work towards improving the levels of safety, by providing expertise and operational knowledge.

How is ECA involved?

As the European regulator, EASA is the main interlocutor for ECA regarding helicopter safety. EASA has acknowledged the need to improve the levels of safety and created, in 2006, the European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST), whose aim is to reduce the helicopter accident rate by 80% by 2016. ECA contributes to this considerable task and provides experts to the meetings organised under this team. ECA is also developing tools and position papers that are presented to the EU institutions and EASA, in order to start regulating helicopter operations, as harmonisation is the first step to increase safety levels.

Who is responsible?

  • Executive Board Director: Álvaro Gammicchia
  • Staff member: Paulina Marcickiewicz
  • Working Group: Helicopters (HEL WG)
  • Chairman: David Abad

External Links

EASA European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST)

EHEST Training Leaflet – Risk management in training