Helicopters Magazine

Features Commercial Operator Profiles
Editorial: Saluting the Innovators

October 11, 2017  By Matt Nicholls

Earlier this year, Helicopters highlighted OEMS, operators and industry leaders who are enhancing the safety landscape both here in Canada and around the world. In our special Innovation in Canadian Rotary Safety Week Aug. 21-25, Helicopters showcased companies such as Vector Aerospace, Heli-One, VIH Aerospace and more, who are innovating with new technologies and processes in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) space.

We followed that up with our Canadian Innovation in Rotary Safety Week Sept. 11-15, showcasing companies such as Airbus Helicopters Canada, who not only honouring the best and brightest safety leaders each year with their Innovation in Safety Award, but have created a series of safety seminars for a wide cross section of operators (For more, see “Innovating for Safety,” pg. 6.)

As Romain Trapp, president of Canada and COO North America, Airbus Helicopters aptly told Helicopters, every operator, OEM and end user connected to the helicopter industry is affected by an accident – all parties must work in unison to create functional safety cultures and best practices that get results.

Helicopters correspondent Walter Heneghan further highlights the need to take ownership and responsibility of your personal safety role in his piece, “Just Culture, SMS and You,” page 20. Heneghan notes that safety is a shared responsibility, one in which all members of an operation need to embrace and adhere to at all times. A proper safety culture is an “informed’ culture – one that’s not based on the adage of “that’s how we do things around here.” There’s infinitely more to it than that.

South of the border, the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) is upping its game in the establishment of enhanced safety practices for the U.S. market – setting a sound course for the global helicopter community to follow. In September, the USHST released an in-depth analysis of the root causes of fatal accidents. It developed 22 measurable safety enhancements aimed at reducing fatalities.


From 2016-2019, the USHST is focusing its attention on reducing fatal accidents within the U.S. helicopter community. The industry-government based team has set its sights on reducing the number of accidents to .61 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The fatal accident rate for 2017 is .069. The USHST breaks its new recommendations into four categories: loss of control (five new safety enhancements); safety and management (seven safety enhancements); competency (six safety enhancements); and IMC and visibility (four safety enhancement). Some of its key objectives include:

Develop and promote recommended practices for pilot and non-flying crewmembers to detect increased risk levels during the course of a flight; effectively communicate the increased risk level to each other; and make a decision on the appropriate risk mitigation

Develop best practices for – and promote the teaching of threat and error management (TEM) – as part of initial and recurrent pilot training

Research, develop, and promote the use of enhanced helicopter vision systems (EHVS) technologies (such as night vision goggles, enhanced vision systems, synthetic vision systems

Develop training for recognition of spatial disorientation and recovery to controlled flight. Emphasize the use of all available resources installed on the aircraft, including automation such as increased use of autopilot

Develop guidelines and recommended practices for helicopter preflight inspection, final walk around, and post flight inspection and promote the recommended practices to the training community and general pilot community

Promote the installation and use of data recording devices (such as HFDM, camera record-

ing) for purposes of detection and monitoring of aircraft and engine limitations that were exceeded; collecting and preserving more data relevant to accident investigation.

Ensuring top safety levels exist in all facets of the industry is the driving force that unites industry-government partnerships such as the USHST and IHST (International Helicopter Safety Team), operators, OEMs and end users. Innovating in safety processes, technologies and procedures to help reduce accidents will always be the main objective.


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