The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) has gathered civil helicopter accident information from worldwide sources and is seeing a hopeful trend of improved safety. The IHST, which promotes safety and works to reduce accidents, was formed in 2005 to lead a government and industry cooperative effort to address factors that were affecting an unacceptable helicopter accident rate.
The data collected by the IHST shows that from 1997 thru 2005, the average number of annual civil helicopter accidents worldwide was 570. In addition, this average was trending upward at an annual rate of 2.5 percent.
Since 2006, when the IHST cooperative effort was formed, the average number of annual civil helicopter accidents worldwide has been 515 and the average is trending downward at an annual rate of about 2 percent.
While there is no solid data on worldwide flying hour increases or decreases during the period since the IHST’s creation, the number of helicopters in the world is growing and the flying hours in many helicopter industries have been increasing. As a result, the IHST is fairly confident that the accident rate is declining by least as much as the accident count is declining. (down 2 percent)
Better access to safety methods and improved safety awareness are helping helicopter operators reduce the number of accidents and enhance safety programs, but more work needs to be done to eliminate preventable accidents.
More information about the IHST, its reports, safety tools, and safety bulletins can be obtained at its web site at www.IHST.org and on the IHST Facebook page.
The following chart displays worldwide civil helicopter accident totals for an 18-year period, with the blue line reflecting the total annual number of accidents. The red dashed line shows the expected total annual accidents if the pre-2006 trend had continued. The yellow dashed line shows the new expected accident totals using 2006 through 2012 data.