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HeliTorque :: View topic - Causes of Helicopter Accidents
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HeliTorque Forum Index » Torque, Chat, and Chill!

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veeany
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:58 am    Post subject: Causes of Helicopter Accidents Reply with quote

As part of the planned safety evenings research I've gone through every accident report involving a UK helicopter that I can find since 01 Jan 2000, mainly these are AAIB reports but some are from foreign investigation bodies.

The primary cause of UK registered accidents is mishandling / loss of control in the hover causing heavy landings and / or tail rotor strikes usually followed by some sort of rollover. Most cases involved a training sortie of some kind some dual, some solo, figures on those will follow shortly.

The primary cause of UK registered fatal accidents is Loss of Control in IMC.

The figures are here http://www.helicoptersafety.org.uk/commonaccidents.asp .

The figures will be expanded slightly later this week to show in more detail what I state about accident causes.

I plan to go further back through the accident reports if time ever permits.

WhirlyGirl you might want to move this to a more approprite place in a few days, just thought it was something worth drawing attention too.

GS
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WhirlyGirl
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks veeany,

I have made it a sticky for the moment so it stays at the top for a few days. We may move it to the flight safety forum once it's been viewed a bit more.


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SilsoeSid
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By far the most interesting!

http://www.helicoptersafety.org.uk/acModel.asp
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lancsman
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:35 am    Post subject: Incident by Type Reply with quote

Whilst the information is comprehensive it does not give a true picture of the saftey of any one aircraft.

We need to know the total number of hours per aircraft for the period.
The expereince of the PIC for each aircraft.

Based on the number that on average 10% of incidents are fatal so does that mean those with a smaller fatality rate have a better crash survival rate or are they just used in different ways.

While I think this is excelent work and must be available to pilots. I for one would like the next level of information if it is available.

Thanks

Mark
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HeliCraig
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am with lancsman in saying that the information, while first rate, could be used to support any number of arguments.

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

That said, some of the data which is needed to further qualify this data (total hrs flown by ac type for example) may not be easily available - who would collate this data??

Much better that we have this data, and understand its limitations and seek to add more data as appropriate than we have nothing at all. Sterling work getting the data this far VeeAny.[/b]
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lancsman
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HeliCraig wrote:
Much better that we have this data, and understand its limitations and seek to add more data as appropriate than we have nothing at all. Sterling work getting the data this far VeeAny.[/b]

Whole heartly agree. Well done to those who have put all this information together.

Mark
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veeany
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gents

I agree that more info would be good, my focus is the most common accidents and what causes them.

I am not trying to produce figures on the safest or most accident prone types, clearly the more you use it and the role in which it is used will affect the chances of having an incident in the first place.

The figures are intended to enable us to decide which types of accident are the most common and to try and deal with those first at the safety evenings.

The other figures generated by model and manufacturer are a by product of the others just because the data is there.

My favourite quote about statistics is that Most People have a higher than average number of feet.'

Gotta go flying, More Later.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aircraft Accidents of all types regardless of where they occur are tragic.
In the US, I lector on safety issues and our most recent statistics clearly indicate that the takeoff/landing and approach phases of flight comprise the highest numbers.
Of these, unfortunately,pilot error was the cause. The most common faults were aeronautical decision making.......simply poor judgment in the operation of the aircraft
Few failures were related to pure mechanical causes. Those that were mechanical are found to be caused by excessive stress from pilot input. Statistics can be, and often are, biased in the way they are collected. However, if one looks at them as simply "indicators" of causals, then some benefit is derived.
ANY helicopter, no matter how well constructed and no matter how well it flies, can fail. I read once that a helicopter is a complex machine composed of hundreds of moving parts, any one ready to fail at any time.
Both pilots and aircraft must be at their best, and each must respect the limits of the other.
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veeany
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We should shortly have the figures for hours flown by aircraft type for the period 1997 - 2006, year by year.

Much more coarse data than the accidents themselves but it will allow me to at least produce at set of year by year and over whole period figures.

I hope to have the raw data sometime next week, will incoporate it as soon as possible after that.

In the meantime i've been busy again, categorising accident causes and writing up some of the more common causes and prevention methods.
We also have graphs for most things graphable now.

Cheers



GS
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And to add my two penn'orth...

If you live in the UK then please, please get along to one of VeeAny's safety evenings. I was lucky enough to get along to Redhill a couple of weeks ago, and a most interesting and valuable evening it was. I can think of few occasions where low-hours PPL(H)s like myself would get the chance to rub shoulders with CPL(H)s, ATPL(H)s, instructors, other PPLs, student PPLs, CAA representatives and the great Dennis Kenyon, just to talk helicopter safety.

All credit to VeeAny for getting the ball rolling - long may they continue Cool
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SwissCheese
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:47 pm    Post subject: Very good initiative.... worth supporting Reply with quote

I have just seen all this. Impressive. I was in the aviation insurance industry for over a decade, and they have some well finessed stats on rotor wing accidents, sliced and diced by type/flight phase/pilot experience/geographic region and operation. However those stats are confidential as they relate to the risk and premium for helicopter insurance. We could however have a crack at asking them for a version of their stats to further air safety?

It is too easy to dismiss rotor wing accident stats, but there are some clear trends, such as the continued preponderence of EMS accidents in the US, as well as specific geographic areas that have higher accident rates such as Hawaii and the Grand Canyon.

I look forward to the next event at Redhill.

James
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GlassMan
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Very good initiative.... worth supporting Reply with quote

SwissCheese wrote:
... such as the continued preponderence of EMS accidents in the US, ....

James


Another one this last weekend. Sadly, most are caused by the same thing. Inadvertent flight into IMC, mostly at night and then a terrain or obstacle accident. In the US, the industry is caught on a tightrope between surviving with increased operating costs, and mandatory equippage for safety. The costs cannot be passed to the "customers" under the present chaotic mess we call a medical system.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Very good initiative.... worth supporting Reply with quote

[quote="GlassMan"]
SwissCheese wrote:
... such as the continued preponderence of EMS accidents in the US, ....James


Quote:
Another one this last weekend. Sadly, most are caused by the same thing. Inadvertent flight into IMC, mostly at night and then a terrain or obstacle accident.
RFB


We must realize the environment in which many of the med flights are conducted....low altitudes, night, bad weather, off-field (non-airport or helipad landings). It is hostile. Yes, the FAA and NTSB as well as industry participants from the medivac community are looking into ways to make their operations safer. Many of the med flights in the US are single pilot, unlike those carried out in other parts of the world. I think most in the UK are two pilot. Some in the US fly two pilot, but most not.

Accidents statistics can be shaped to prove or disprove just about anything dependent upon the person gathering and analyzing the numbers, but the single most important things we can draw from accident stats: That there is a problem. The area of flight in which it most occurs.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:36 am    Post subject: Causes of accidents Reply with quote

This is very useful information. I could of course point to a series of helicopter fatal accidents that I am involved in both here in the UK, EU and US, where I am assisting the families/vicitms, where maintenance or component problems were the proximate causes of the accident. My resounding experience is of manufacturers usually pointing the blame finger at the pilot (who is usually not alive to defend themselves), when the forensic realities are that sometimes pilots simply cannot get themselves out of a very difficult situation. As you know, the AAIB/NTSB do not apportion blame, and sometimes the reports do not deal adequately with all the air safety issues that arise. That is left to us and our independent experts to determine using the various legal avenues available. Am happy to assist you in making your data more comprehensive.

Anyhow enough of that, and just wanted to say how much I am enjoying doing my PPL H on an EC120, with the Cross Country coming up this week, weather permitting.

James
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Dolphin
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately it is often pilot error...in planning a flight/wieght and balance/fuel/weather etc.

In Italy the two principal causes in helicopter accidents are wires (main victims are helicopters involved in Firefighting and HEMS operations) and loss of control in IMC.

Two days ago I've lost a friend which crashed and drowned in a lake because he flew in bad weather...poor visibility/flying over water with a 350B3.

He was pressured by his boss, as usual, and that day he just should have said no...which he didin't!!!

He was experienced, was both a TRI/TRE on 350 and 355...but still committed a plain error which everyone knows should never be done.

Now he's part of the statistics and I only hope it will serve others in the future...
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