IHST restructures U.S. helicopter safety team

March 14, 2013
March 14, 2013, Washington, D.C. - The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) is adding additional focus to its safety efforts in the U.S. helicopter community by designating two of its current executives to lead the United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) and concentrate solely on safety issues within the U.S. civil helicopter community.

This team will be co-chaired by industry and government.  James Viola, FAA Flight Standards Division, has been named the government co-chair and Bill Chiles, president and chief executive officer of Bristow Group, has been named as the industry co-chair of the USHST.

“Reformulating a U.S. team that is distinct from the IHST and its worldwide efforts will help keep our safety initiatives in the United States moving forward,” says Kim Smith, IHST Co-Chair and FAA Manager of the Rotorcraft Directorate.  “It also frees up the IHST leadership to concentrate on safety strategies for the global civil helicopter community.”

“Bill Chiles is an influential leader in our industry and a valuable asset for this important team,” adds Matt Zuccaro, IHST Co-Chair and President of Helicopter Association International. “The core of the USHST group, its analysis and implementation committees, is already in place and has been working diligently.  With Bill’s leadership, they can centre their efforts on U.S. safety solutions for the U.S. helicopter community.”

U.S. safety experts and analysts who have been part of the IHST for the past few years will continue their outstanding efforts as part of the USHST and focused specifically on U.S. topics.  The USHST also will welcome additional industry volunteers who are in a position to help implement the group’s specific safety initiatives.

Within the United States, the number of civil helicopter accidents has decreased during the past five years, but this improvement has leveled off recently.  Three-year rolling totals for U.S. civil helicopter accidents are the following:

• 2007-09           466 accidents

• 2008-10           429 accidents

• 2009-11           415 accidents

• 2010-12           411 accidents

Chiles’ new role as USHST industry co-chair is in addition to his continuing participation on the Executive Committee of the IHST. Chiles heads Bristow Group Inc., the leading provider of helicopter services to the offshore energy industry based on the number of aircraft operated, and one of two helicopter service providers to the offshore energy industry with global operations.  The Company has major operations in the North Sea, Nigeria, and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, as well as most of the other major offshore oil and gas producing regions of the world; including Alaska, Australia, Brazil, Russia, and Trinidad.  In addition, the company provides search and rescue services and offers pilot training through Bristow Academy.

The IHST promotes safety and works to reduce civil helicopter accidents worldwide.  The organization was formed in 2005 to lead a government and industry cooperative effort to address factors that were affecting an unacceptable helicopter accident rate.  The group’s vision is an international civil helicopter community with zero accidents with a goal to reduce the international civil helicopter accident rate by 80 percent by 2016.

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