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U.S. Helicopter Safety Team Warns About the Next “Bump in the Road” for Fatal Accidents

WASHINGTON D.C. – As the temperature moves downward during October and November in most of the U.S., the number of fatal helicopter accidents usually moves upward according to the United States Helicopter Safety Team (www.USHST.org).

In 2017 and 2018, during these two autumn months, the U.S. helicopter industry experienced 13 fatal accidents, the highest total for a consecutive two-month period during those years.  (See the chart below.)

In light of this data, the USHST is asking all helicopter pilots, mechanics, operators and instructors to be especially vigilant during those upcoming 61 days. The data shows that many of the 13 fatal accidents during October and November involved visibility issues, such as controlled flight into terrain or striking an object  or wire while flying at a low level. The spike in fatal accidents could stem from the autumn to winter changeable weather and unanticipated visibility problems that occur during October and November.

There also are three segments of the helicopter industry that need to be more cautious during the next two months: Personal/Private pilots, Utilities & Construction operations, and training flights.  These segments accounted for 10 of the 13 fatal accidents during October and November.

Over the past three decades, the number of fatal helicopter accidents has been decreasing, but bumps in the road still occur month to month.  If we are more aware of them, we can prevent them, and we can save lives.

The USHST is a regional affiliate of the International Helicopter Safety Foundation (www.IHSF.aero).  Both organizations work to promote safety and reduce helicopter accidents. For information and criteria on how a helicopter safety expert can join the USHST effort, contact Chris Hill via email at  chris.hill@rotor.org.

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