Airbus Helicopters AS350 (Photo: Texas Department of Public Safety)
The USHST fears that the U.S. helicopter industry is headed for its worst fatal accident record in more than a decade. In this accident, a 2009 Airbus Helicopters AS350 crashed in the Sam Houston National Forest in Texas in March during a controlled burn operation, killing one and injuring two others. (Photo: Texas Department of Public Safety)

Helo Safety Team: Act Now To Check Fatal Accident Rate

Fifteen fatal accidents with 27 fatalities have been recorded so far this year in the U.S.

The U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) recently warned that the U.S. helicopter industry is heading toward its highest annual fatal accident rate in more than a decade,  recording 15 fatal accidents with 27 deaths in the first six months of 2019. The USHST notes that that number is already on par with 2013 when 30 fatal helicopter accidents were recorded, but cautioned that the rate could go even higher, as July historically posts the highest number of rotorcraft accidents during the calendar year.

Billionaire Chris Cline Killed in AW139 Crash

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Cline’s daughter and a flight-school operator are among six others who died in the July 4 accident.

Figuring in that history, the USHST warns that “the industry also is at risk to reach the total from 2008, when there were 35 fatal helicopter accidents. With half of 2019 completed and another six months to go, the U.S. helicopter industry is experiencing a year of tragic accidents with too many lives being lost.”

The USHST is calling on operators, pilots, instructors, and mechanics to “rely on safety basics and place a stronger emphasis on identifying and managing risk.” The USHST is asking the industry to also focus on basics, including fuel management, adequate preflight inspections, adherence to checklists, understanding the impact of over-the-counter medications, avoiding flying VFR in IFR conditions (scud running), not succumbing to “get-there-itis,” and learning when to abort missions en route.