Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Brent Bergan

What's Causing Our High Helicopter Accident Rate And What Can We Do To Reduce It?

Recommended Posts

Unfortunately there seems to be news of a small or large accident emailed out from "vertical daily news" almost weekly, or at least 2 per month. If the airline industry had this many crashes/mishaps, no one would be flying.

 

The NTSB put out reccomendations in 2006 regarding NVGs, TAWS, risk management, and call centers (probably a few more too)... but a lof of the time, as in the the most recent EMS crash, none of the reccommendations would have helped.

 

I don't really see the issues that are out there in the civilian world, as I fly for the Coast Guard... we have our own issues, and I'm sure some are very much parallel to the civilian sector.

 

What else can be done?

 

One thing that is interesting to me, is the separation of public use helicotpers (police/fire rescue) from the civilian operators. They don't seem to have the same mishap rate as their civilian counter parts. (could be worth some research on the NTSB's website).

 

What are your thoughts?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing that is interesting to me, is the separation of public use helicopters (police/fire rescue) from the civilian operators. They don't seem to have the same mishap rate as their civilian counter parts. (could be worth some research on the NTSB's website).

 

Number 1, (police/fire rescue) including CG do not fly in the same area's as their civilian counterparts and are not required to make a profit ($$).

 

I believe if you did a survey on NTSB you will probably find that the commercial sector far exceeds the state operated helicopters in flying hours.

 

I appreciate you starting this thread, but you seem to live in another world or are very naive.

 

Most of what you have posted so far is already being used or should be (as they are already aware) of the consequences, in the civilian world.

 

As a non profit making organization, who picks up your operating costs, including insurance???

 

Safety is applicable in any organization, so is common sense. You are trying to compare apples and oranges.

 

Number 2. They are not the same.

 

With no animosity intended,

 

Cheers, Don

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One thing that is interesting to me, is the separation of public use helicopters (police/fire rescue) from the civilian operators. They don't seem to have the same mishap rate as their civilian counter parts. (could be worth some research on the NTSB's website).

 

Number 1, (police/fire rescue) including CG do not fly in the same area's as their civilian counterparts and are not required to make a profit ($$).

 

I believe if you did a survey on NTSB you will probably find that the commercial sector far exceeds the state operated helicopters in flying hours.

 

I appreciate you starting this thread, but you seem to live in another world or are very naive.

 

Most of what you have posted so far is already being used or should be (as they are already aware) of the consequences, in the civilian world.

 

As a non profit making organization, who picks up your operating costs, including insurance???

 

Safety is applicable in any organization, so is common sense. You are trying to compare apples and oranges.

 

Number 2. They are not the same.

 

With no animosity intended,

 

Cheers, Don

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don, thanks for the reply...

 

As a non profit making organization, who picks up your operating costs, including insurance???

 

Safety is applicable in any organization, so is common sense. You are trying to compare apples and oranges.

 

Number 2. They are not the same.

 

I don't follow how they're "apple and oranges," as I left out the Navy/Marines/Army... the helicopters pick up people and deliver them somewhere... often the public use helicopters have a more challenging mission, sometimes not.

 

For any NTSB accident that I've read through, they've neglected to find fault for who pays the operating costs. From what I've seen, it's derived from decision making upon the parts of the pilots, which may or may not be driven from the top to make a profit.

 

So, are you saying that b/c public sector helicopters don't have to pay their operating costs, that's why they have a better safety record? I don't buy it...

 

As for "another world, or naive..." say what you like, but for me, I really enjoy talking to people from every sector in the helicopter industry, I believe everyone has unique experiences and a differing knowledge base which makes a forum like this work. Do I have any civilian time... nope... but, I do have 8 years in the helicopter industry and working towards a pretty good safety background and I would think if people weren't abrasive over forums, people would be more willing to write in these things. And perhaps some good ideas would be generated...

 

Thanks,

 

Brent

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Bullet Remington

Brent:

 

Being an ex mil wog, I do have a background in mil ops. Canadian so it may be a lot different for My American brothers in arms.

 

Firstly, there may APPEAR to be a major spread in the mishap numbers when you compare civil to mil ops. However, the military (in Canada anyways) do not have to report their accidents/mishaps tp the TSB. The military have their own accident invertigators and board. NONE of their finding have to be reported, it they deem it! So, assuming that the civil industry is more prone would be an erroneous assumpstion. So, for all intents and purposes, if one were to access (assuming that this is possible( the information on accident statistics for the Navy, Air Force, and the Marines ( Coast Guard?) and combine the total, the seriously doubt that there would be a glaring difference.

 

As for Don's statement "Apples to Oranges"while I strongly dislike that comparision, I do believe he has a logical point. For example, your duty time and requirements/dictates are very different then those of the civil sector. Minimim Equipment Lists (MEL's) differ quite drastically as well. Should a driver snag a DG on a VFR machine is the civil sector it's no big deal. In the mil, the driver would end up grounding the ma chine until this was fixed.

 

Using this example (yeah it is a little drastic) one would clearly see that there would be a major trickle down effect caused to a bunch of folks, financially. The civil machine don't fly, th emachine generats zero income, the owner generates zero income, the pilot generates zero income, the mkech ( AME/ A&P) genrates zero income, PLUS the owner/operator has to fork out a couple of grand for a DG. Major headaches all around.

 

The same scenario in the mil/government world? No big whoop. The mission is postponed and or another machine is called up. Pilot gets paid whether he flys or not! Ditto the mechanic and everybody else down the line. Cost for the DG?? Well that's picked up by our rich uncles. Your Rich Uncle G.w. in Washington and My rich uncle Steve in Ottawa.

 

Major Difference between the two sectors, major attitude differences ( not like that's a bad thing , either!) major focus differences.

 

The other aspect to consider is the operations types. Contrary to many personal opinions, there is a humongous difference between flying mil ops and civie ops. You can< for all intents and urposes, take as much time as you want slinging a howitzer into postion. Now yoyu apply the same to slinging drills/siesmic bags, power generators, etc, etc, into position and one can easily see that time is money. A Whole different stress inducing scenario. Plus there's the whole, well if you won't do it, I can get Joe Smoe down the road to do it!

 

Apples and Oranges!! :blink:

 

oh, and if I were you Brent, go back and read some of BM's other posts. He wasn't being abrasive in his reply! That was one of his more tactful posting!! :shock: :lol: He did state "No animosity intented?? :blink:

 

Now the Canadian Coast Guard is a cat of a different bvreed. All our CCG helicopter folks are and must be civilian licensed and are trhusly subjected to the same rules and regulation the rest of us long haired over the hill hippies!! :punk:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If the airline industry had this many crashes/mishaps, no one would be flying.

 

That is the apples to oranges comparison.

 

If all helicopter flights were from a heavily prepared location (airport) along a highly regulated route (airway) to another heavily prepared location (airport) with an hour or more of reserve fuel (IFR) then the accident rates would be similar. As a matter of fact, they are. For example: CHC's accident rate is comparable to a large 1st Tier airline.

 

What I have seen throughout the last 19 years in helicopter aviation (mil/civil, VFR/IFR, single/multi, bush, offshore, EMS, training: I move around a lot) is a bunch of seized-wing rules and perceptions applied to aircraft that are only vaguely similar in how they are employed.

 

If an EMS operator needs every call (billable hours) to survive then they will start doing single-pilot night ops into unprepared areas. Just write up a procedure for the Ops Manual. Then they will have an accident because it is a horribly unforgiving environment and it is legal for them to send any barely qualified pilot out there to try when even the best are working hard to do it safely. Done deal. How much regulation is there out there to guide them as they try this?

 

I feel we need to look at how we educate our rotary pilots from the viewpoint of a blank sheet of paper, not a carbon-copy of what the "airline" guys have been doing. We spend hours training for engine failures when it is just one of many single point failures in the aircraft. How much time is spent in the simulator doing uniquely rotary training? You say the simulators aren't that advanced yet? I agree. Then get back in the aircraft!!

 

Be careful , take it slow, but train like we fly, not like an airbus flies!

 

Features like the training switches available in latest generation helicopters are perfect. No limited FOV, no unrealistic terrain databases. The training possible in the aircraft is ideal, high GW is simulated and you have an out. Let's create our own standard that works for us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You make some very good points swampy.

 

Two worlds, worlds apart.

 

When was the last time a 300 hr EMS or Law enforcement pilot was left on his own in a camp 100 miles from any support for 42 days. Or an AME who works all night in a mosquito infested swamp to get a machine running by morning! But then again, their world is foreign to me. I've never shot an approach to a highway with wires on both sides in the dark with goggles on!

 

Single engine, 120 ft line, 14 hour days - 8 hour of flying, pump your own fuel, clean your own machine, DI, elementary maintenance, ETC, not to mention the living conditions and the @%&*#@ paper work.

 

Revenue runs the commercial world, when the blades are turnin we're earning. When they are not, we don't eat.

 

And why is it our accident rate is so high, but we still wear carharts for flight suits. I love my bibbed carharts. Best flight suit I ever had, wore those things until there was more missing than covering my #@@.

 

And Dam it, my neck wouldn't have been so sore if I had a load master!

 

Training requirement do need to change, and I hope, I'm helping to make that change.

 

Rob

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...Should a driver snag a DG on a VFR machine is the civil sector it's no big deal. In the mil, the driver would end up grounding the ma chine until this was fixed.

 

I've been reading and everyting has been duly noted. Unfortunately I can not comment or offer an informed opinion yet (I am not a pilot yet but I want to be a safe pilot) and I am very curious. What is a DG?

Thanks for you help.

 

Murdoch

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great points.... without a doubt, the "apples to oranges" comparison, regarding commercial airliners. However, both fixed and rotary wing pilots have similar issues, and can run into similar problems.

 

Swamp asked: "How much time is spent in the simulator doing uniquely rotary training?"

 

Great point! Bell Helicopter is starting their P3 training program where they instruct in unit's speacialized training scenarios to assist pilots in the critical decision making process. Looking back at the CG's major mishaps, quite a few have come down to poor decision making and not realizing the hazards involved in the mission, or realizing the hazards, but failing to compare the hazards to the gains of the mission.

 

Personnally guilty of this a few months ago... I forced a landing to the back of a ship, on a dark night with the ship at the pitch and roll limits, on NVGs with zero illumination, with a copilot right out of flight school for a mission that easily could have waited until the next day. The risks were high and the gain was about as low it could have been, yet I forced a mission that wasn't needed... why do we as helicopter pilots make decisions such as these? Sometimes it seems very difficult to turn down a mission, as perhaps we're all get'r done type of people, see it as a challenge vice a potential disaster... land when we shouldn't, or fly in incliment weather... I guess that's why we get paid the big bucks? My misadventure ended up in dropping off the guy I was supposed to, but it was the worst landing & takeoff I've had in 8 years!

 

So getting back to the uniquely rotary wing training... yeah, that's absolutely good stuff. We actually attend annual simulator training and do our EP sims, instrument and a mission simulator event. In our mission simulator we make these decisions and have the chance to review our decisions with an experienced pilot. It's good stuff.

 

Training people in critical mission decision making seems to be pretty important... it's always unfortunate when folks get shopped around for an EMS call and one guy takes the call, unaware of others that turned it down because of the weather and the call out ends in catastrophe.

 

Well, time to roll... thanks for the comments! Great stuff.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BrentBergan:

 

Quote "Sometimes it seems very difficult to turn down a mission, as perhaps we're all get'r done type of people, see it as a challenge vice a potential disaster... land when we shouldn't, or fly in inclement weather... I guess that's why we get paid the big bucks? My misadventure ended up in dropping off the guy I was supposed to, but it was the worst landing & takeoff I've had in 8 years! "

 

Working in Sudan on a seismic job I was asked to move a guy from the camp to an airstrip about an hour away in the middle of the night. If you have ever flown near the equator with no moon, it's dark real dark and then some.

 

Scenario:

 

Machine Bell 212 with instrument but strictly VFR machine, no duals.

 

Pilot: Me, +13,000hrs on helicopters +5,000 on mediums, IFR Course, not current.

 

I would basically have to slow fly 100' AGL with my two spot lights, the whole way. What a lot of pilots don't realize is flying that way can bring on "Vertigo" (hypnotic) and spin in.

 

Asked the Medic if there was any additional help he could get at the airstrip, the answer was no.

 

So, taking into consideration the fact that I was putting the patient and the medic, myself at risk I refused to go until first light. As it was, he died during the night and I brought the body to the airstrip.

 

As pilots are human beings PDM is different for each situation, you and your machine is one thing, you and your machine plus co-pilot and passengers is another, there life is in the hands of the PIC.

 

I've stated that I am going to make up the following placard to put on the consul of all helicopters.

 

"95% OF ALL ACCIDENTS HAPPEN DUE TO THE PILOT TRYING TO EXCEED HIS OR THE AIRCRAFT CAPABILITIES"

 

Cheers, Don

 

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...