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Safest Light Helicopter


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#1 rick1128

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 20:42

It is a boring, rainy night here on the East Coast and I thought I would stir the pot a little bit. Was doing a little research on the safety records of light helicopters on the NTSB's website and came away with some interesting information. Searched their records on accidents of light piston and light turbine helicopters. For statical accuracy, I picked Jan 1, 1970 as the beginning search date. The helicopters are all variants of common civil light helicopters. And came away with these bits of data:

Type / #of Accidents / # of Fatals / % of accidents fatal

R22/ 418 / 69 / 16.5%/

R44 / 94 / 36 / 34%/

H269/300 / 725 / 75 / 10.3%/

BH47 / 1670 / 164 / 9.8%/

Hiller 12 / 592 / 28 / 4.7%/

EN28/280 / 375 / 32 / 8.5%/

BH206 / 1343 / 277 / 20.6%/

AS350 / 118 / 32 / 27% /

500 / 67 / 9 / 13.4%/

These numbers really surprised me in some ways. I can understand the Hiller 12, Bell 47 and Bell 206 numbers being so high as they are used in utility and ag work, which do have increased accident rates. The H500 numbers were surprisingly low, Since police departments are under public use, these accidents may not be reported. I didn't see any police accidents in the NTSB database. The really surprising one was the R44 fatal rate.

Interested in others thoughts on these numbers.

Edited by rick1128, 11 December 2008 - 20:45.


#2 lelebebbel

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 21:41

Interesting, but does it really mean anything?

Just for fun, i tried the same numbers for "Boing 747" 1/1/1970 until today

only 93 accidents, but 1398 fatalities. --> 1500%


that leaves two possible conclusions:

a ) an R22 is about 90 times safer than a boing 747

or

b ) this statistic is meaningless, unless you factor in "number of people on board"
and from your list, only ASTAR, B206, 500 and R44 have 4 or more seats. Which still doesn't tell us how many people where on board at the time of the accidents...


gotta love statistics...

Edited by lelebebbel, 11 December 2008 - 21:41.

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#3 rick1128

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 22:10

Interesting, but does it really mean anything?

Just for fun, i tried the same numbers for "Boing 747" 1/1/1970 until today

only 93 accidents, but 1398 fatalities. --> 1500%


that leaves two possible conclusions:

a ) an R22 is about 90 times safer than a boing 747

or

b ) this statistic is meaningless, unless you factor in "number of people on board"
and from your list, only ASTAR, B206, 500 and R44 have 4 or more seats. Which still doesn't tell us how many people where on board at the time of the accidents...


gotta love statistics...


Actually, you will twist the information if you include the number of seats and the number of facilities. What I was looking at was the percentage of accidents that were fatals. That evens out the statistics. If you are involved in an accident, what are your chances of surviving? According to what I found, you are much better off in a Hiller than you are in an R44.

#4 Jeff

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 22:13

Rick,

If you're still bored, try doing your statistics based on #accidents, etc per 100,000 flight hours, or per 100,000 person-flight hours. So if a single place helicopter has 10 fatal accidents in 100,000 hours, it would be the same as a two-place heli with two people on it having 5 fatals in 100,000 hours. Well... come to think of it, that is pretty useless too. Anyways, most accident statistics are given per 100,000 flight hours with no regard for the SOB's.

$0.02

~Jeff

#5 HelliBoy

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 22:59

I find 100% of accident statistics useless so I've chosen not to participate in them. :D

#6 thrilsekr

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 13:51

For even more meaningful statistics, you need to also include the number of helicopters in service.
If there are 100 of A in service, and 10 fatal accidents, that would imply a far more "unsafe" heli than B which had 10 fatal accidents but has 1000 in service.
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#7 captkirkyota

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 15:59

Also not factored is that most pilots in a turbine have more experience, pistons, namely Robbies are typically more filled with low timers who may have harder time due to lack of experience, executing a more successful crash landing.

#8 rick1128

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 16:46

Also not factored is that most pilots in a turbine have more experience, pistons, namely Robbies are typically more filled with low timers who may have harder time due to lack of experience, executing a more successful crash landing.


Look at the numbers. 206's and A-Stars have a greater % of fatals than the 22. The 44 has the largest percentage of fatals with the Hiller 12 the lowest.

As for hours flown and cycles, these items of information are not readily available. The numbers produced could be good information, but what if the same helicopter out of that 100 had the ten accidents. How do you count those? I set up this search in a manner to keep it apples to apples comparison. It was a research exercise that provided some interesting results and information.

#9 captkirkyota

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 17:31

Look at the numbers. 206's and A-Stars have a greater % of fatals than the 22. The 44 has the largest percentage of fatals with the Hiller 12 the lowest.

As for hours flown and cycles, these items of information are not readily available. The numbers produced could be good information, but what if the same helicopter out of that 100 had the ten accidents. How do you count those? I set up this search in a manner to keep it apples to apples comparison. It was a research exercise that provided some interesting results and information.


Yeah, the 44 I say is high though because a lot of the are purchased by a private pilot type guy who really could use more experience before he take out his friends and such.
Anyway, I was not trying to get into a stats pissing match, just wanted to add that tid-bit of thought.

**EDITED to remove statement that could be misinterpreted when reading.**

#10 rick1128

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 18:06

Yeah, the 44 I say is high though because a lot of the are purchased by a private pilot type guy who really could use more experience before he take out his friends and such.

Anyway, I was not trying to get into a stats pissing match, just wanted to add that tid-bit of thought.


Good point there. Also the 44 is used alot for instrument training and rides/tours. The Enstrom is also primarily used by private owners with a much different fatality rate. It does make you think, though.

Edited by rick1128, 13 December 2008 - 15:15.


#11 apiaguy

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 03:52

me thinks people's ears are burning.... watch out what you say on a public forum captkirkyoda. I do believe all actions by said attorney were legal... some neighbors just don't like helicopters. suggesting he needed more training from someone who's only been in a flight school environment is risky behavior.

#12 captkirkyota

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 05:04

I never said I saw anything, they were pointed out to me when I was a fresh new student. Nor was I making a judgment call. I had heard from CFI's that have since gone that some of the descisions to fly in certain WX conditions were probably not the best due to hours of flight and one or 2 other things similar that were stated. That relates to what I was trying to say about lower time pilots being part of those stats. No one I've EVER spoken with has ever said he was not a good pilot, they just mentioned to me, at the time a new student, that decision making while personal, is of utmost importance, and they told me to always err on the side of don't go if you don't have to when WX is questionable as a low time guy. One guy who has moved on some time ago used to chuckle about some of the hovering heights around the A.P., which does not seem to be an issue last time I was out at the same time he was, but what you mention about the neighbors, I have not heard anything about what you are referring to.
Maybe my saying that he has "seen the light" and he was "exactly like I was referring" too are not the best choice of words, because those statements, having just re-read them do seem a bit "harder" than is the case. So for that I do owe everyone an apology because I am not trying to sound self righteous nor do I want to sound misleading, which those statements should have been worded differently. But I did give him credit for seeking to get more training, which as my comments were intended to point out, more training will reduce some of those 44 stats.
So please do not be offended, as that was not the intent, even though it can be read in a way that I did not intend.

#13 Jeff

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 09:18

me thinks people's ears are burning.... watch out what you say on a public forum captkirkyoda. I do believe all actions by said attorney were legal... some neighbors just don't like helicopters. suggesting he needed more training from someone who's only been in a flight school environment is risky behavior.


I never took yota's comments that way. I would hope that if people around and airport--especially CFI's--would say something to a pilot that they witness flying in an unsafe way. The intervention yota referred to may have saved the pilot's life, and possibly the lives of others, or at the very least, a banged-up aircraft. We are ALL responsible for safety, not just the FAA or whoever else.

~Jeff

#14 Whistlerpilot

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 20:32

Here is a missing piece of information to make the stats relevant. The Bell 206 has flown over 32 million flight hours. When this is factored it shows that the Jet Ranger is the most reliable helicopter in the world, and many say is actually the safest single engine aircraft ever made including fixed wing.

The fact it has the most flight hours, a reliable turbine engine, and most would agree the best autorotation characterstics of any helicopter (in case the donkey does quit) makes it hard to compare to the others. The aging fleet may start to catch up now that the 206 is out of production however.

Another relevant stat is that almost 80% of helicopter accidents are due to human factors. So it's the people involved with them that cause most accidents not usually the machine itself. The SFAR 73 regs and Robinson safety course are a good case in point. The R22 safety has demonstrably improved with Pilot understanding of the low inertia rotor system and it's particular handling characteristics.

You gotta love statistics. Whichever helicopter has the most flight hours will have the most accidents so some might say is the most dangerous, but on the other hand the more hours a type flies usually it's accident rate per 1000 hours decreases overall.

I take comfort in knowing that statistically it is me and maintenance personnel who really makes a difference in the safety of a flight more than the helicopter type.

Fly safe whatever your machine!

When life's path is steep keep your mind even.





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