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FAASTeam Notice
Type: General Information
Notice Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017
Notice Number: NOTC7460
A message worthy of everyone’s attention regarding a recent fatal helicopter accident trend from USHST
This posting will be removed on
Monday, November 26, 2018

We have observed a concerning two-month (Sep-Oct) acceleration in the number of rotorcraft fatal accidents, a fact accentuated by the latest fatal accident in October that occurred yesterday.  It may seem odd to point out an acceleration given the generally optimistic FY 17 summary we sent just a few weeks ago.  Things can change quickly.  Framed within the context of the current calendar year, we had 11 fatal accidents from Jan-Aug.  We’ve had 7 so far in September (3) and October (4) and October isn’t even over yet.  That’s close to 40% of our fatal accidents for the calendar year in the past two months.

The last time we observed back to back months like we’ve observed in Sep-Oct 2017 was in 2013 when we observed a historic surge in the number of fatal accidents.  USHST does not want to wait around to see if the trend continues into November.  Maybe this is a 2-month statistical anomaly, maybe it is a 2-month precursor to a longer term trend. 

USHST is looking into each of the 7 fatal accidents from Sep-Oct for any early trends.  It is a difficult task at this stage since all of them are still in the early aspects of investigation and some have not even had an NTSB prelim report released.  We have seen the fatal accidents occur across a broad spectrum of rotorcraft industry sectors to include air ambulance, personal use, instruction, aerial application, and news gathering.  Aircraft have ranged from among the most highly equipped Part 29 rotorcraft to light Part 27 reciprocating engine rotorcraft.  No one has been immune.

One huge caveat…this should not distract us from our current commitment to the 18 approved H-SEs.  The H-SEs are as valid now as they ever were...probably even more so.  In fact, a great point can be made that perhaps some of the best prevention may be for folks to visit our USHST website and LOC-I, UIMC, LALT final report/list of H-SEs as a method of knowing where the highest risk areas exist and where they should be paying more attention.  We do not want this message to lead to a “knee jerk, whack-a-mole” response that’s inconsistent with our data driven H-SEs.

Thank you

USHST Safety Analysis Team