Safety in training: reducing helicopter accidents

Training and instructional helicopter flights with a Certified Flight Instructor onboard are no safer than a regular helicopter flight. In fact, 18 % of all helicopter accidents in Europe occur during flight training.

In a fresh outreach to improve helicopter safety, the European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST) looked into accident statistics and identified training and instructional flights as one of the most critical moments when accidents occur.

A thorough analysis of the data reveals that single engine piston helicopters, widely used for training because of their relatively low operating costs, are a large contributor to the number of accidents in training. These helicopters often have a low inertia rotor system which, if not flown properly, limits the margin of error for pilots.

This is exactly where most concerns continue to stem from according the EHEST. Pilot decision making and inadequate or untimely Flight Instructor action to correct the student’s action are some of the major contributors to training accidents.

In a recently published leaflet, EHEST spells out several recommendations for pilots and instructors specifically on how to reduce the risk of accident during training flights. In addition to the expansion of flying training syllabus for ab-initio helicopter pilots, EHEST recommends more attention to mission preparation and execution and recurrent training. Training flights make no exception to the general rule that the pilot is responsible for the aircraft’s safety in both normal and emergency conditions.

The valuable leaflet is available online and is highly recommended for all helicopter pilots and instructors.

Against the background of an industry which is already falling behind its ambitious target to reduce helicopter accidents by 80% in 2016, it’s worth looking deeper into the findings of EHEST: