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Flight Safety: Where there is smoke, there should be fire

July 18, 2007  By Geoff Goodyear

Although we have reached the end of 2002, it takes quite a while for the accident statistics to catch up with us.

Although we have reached the end of 2002, it takes quite a while for
the accident statistics to catch up with us. While enjoying the
Yuletide season, we only get a statistical picture up to July. The
total picture may indeed change as the months progress, but one thing
is obvious from the current trend:We have taken a big jump in numbers
over the previous year and in our five-year average. If this was some
general phenomenon afflicting all of aviation, one might be able to
rationalize it; but it seems to be specific to the helicopter side, as
our brothers and sisters in the fixed-wing appear to be doing a
wonderful job of reducing their accident rate, and quite
substantially.Why the big difference?

Is it because of our largely unsupported work areas, or is our
training inadequate or are the machines falling apart? It is difficult
to determine from the stats available as they are not broken down with
regard to cause vs. aircraft type, but something is clearly amiss. I
would hypothesize that despite our best efforts and intentions, we may
not be doing all the right things.

As the statute of limitations has expired on this particular
personal experience, I would like to share it with you. While enjoying
some gracious dining with friends at an Italian restaurant in
Charlottetown, we would occasionally smell smoke. Upon closer
inspection, the building was of an old Victorian style with a fireplace
in every room.No doubt in an effort to create the appropriate ambiance,
the proprietor had a fire going in all these fireplaces using processed
logs as opposed to the real wood kind. As a pilot who just came off an
intense season of fighting fires and full of useless tidbits of
information, I informed our party of the principles of convection
currents associated with fires, and that without sufficient flame, the
smoke was bound to come back into the room and not go up the chimney
where it belonged.




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