PHOENIX (May 12, 2010) – The world’s top society of vertical-flight professionals has honored a global team of helicopter experts, International Helicopter Safety Team, for its success in improving safety of helicopter operations and its ongoing efforts to expand those improvements
The American Helicopter Society (AHS) International presented representatives of that team with the AgustaWestland International Helicopter Fellowship Award at ceremonies during its annual gathering of rotorcraft technical experts here today. That award honors the most significant contribution to international vertical flight cooperation by an individual or group. The International Helicopter Safety Team was formed in 2005, at a time when helicopter accident trends were stagnant, to cut by 80 percent the rate for all helicopter accidents by 2016 throughout the world.
“This cooperative effort by helicopter operators, manufacturers, maintenance organization, regulators and accident investigators in the world’s major helicopter markets has contributed to a reduction of more than 30 percent in helicopter accidents in the last four years,” said AHS President Phil Dunford, who is also vice president and general manager of The Boeing Company’s helicopter division. “The spread of the International Helicopter Safety Team across the globe has already helped to make helicopter flight safer and built support for its efforts to improve safety further.”
“All of the many members of the International Helicopter Safety Team truly honored by this recognition of our efforts to build a global network committed to further enhancing helicopter safety,” said Matt Zuccaro and Mark Schilling, co-chairs of the team’s executive committee, in a joint statement.
Zuccaro is president of the rotorcraft trade group Helicopter Association International; Schilling is the Manager of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Rotorcraft Directorate, assigned to provide executive leadership of the team. Joint leadership facilitates support of the efforts and implementation of its recommendations by industry participants and regulators alike around the world.
The team builds on the success of an effort launched in 1997 to cut fatal commercial airline accident rates 80 percent in 10 years. By 2008, that Commercial Aviation Safety Team had helped cut the fatal accident rate by 83 percent through a disciplined, data-driven process of identifying the most common causes of such accidents and implementing means of eliminating or mitigating those causes. The International Helicopter Safety Team adopted that same approach for an even more ambitious goal: cutting the rate of all helicopter accidents by 80 percent in 10 years.
Started in the U.S., the team set up a sub-group to thoroughly analyze accidents involving U.S.-registered helicopters for the year 2000 and identify their most common causes. A second sub-group used that pioneering analysis to recommend ways to head off those threats while the first undertook analysis of subsequent years’ data. The team to date has published tool kits to help helicopter operators make more effective use of safety management systems, simulator-based training, flight-data monitoring programs and generally has raised awareness in the helicopter industry of the need to address safety issues.
IHST efforts have led to the formation of Regional Partners who have developed similar safety initiatives in the European Union (EHEST), Brazil, Canada, India, GCC Region, Japan, and Australia. IHST is working to expand their Regional Partners to include Russia and South Africa. Participants from around the world are now meeting annually to review progress toward that 80-percent goal and refine their efforts. The next International Helicopter Safety Symposium is set for October 3-4, 2010, in Cascais, Portugal.