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Safest helicopter sector


Parafiddle
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After reading about the spate of recent accidents in EMS and flight training, I started wonder which sector of helicopter flying is the safest (as a pilot). I want to be an old pilot, not a bold pilot. Hence, what is a good sector of helicopter flying to pursue? Obviously, all flying has risks, and they must be managed appropriately. However, I think some sectors have higher risks (not always under the control/influence of the pilot). Don't want to bash any particular sector, but rather gather some insight from those with experience. Thoughts?

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Lots of people get killed on tour flights, more than die in the GOM, and far more when you look at it as a rate. I think tours have about the highest death rate of any flying, and I would never get on one, or allow any member of my family on one. The tourists want to see exciting flying, and relatively inexperienced pilots are more than willing to provide it. There were good reasons for enacting a special FAR for tours.

 

For all the attention the GOM gets, and the accidents that occur there, when you look at the number of hours flown, the rate is not that bad, better than general aviation overall. There are lots of training accidents, to be expected when low-time pilots are teaching new students, but the fatal rate doesn't seem to be that high, it's mostly just bent metal.

 

If you're really interested, you can go to the NTSB website and do some research, with every aviation accident since the early 80s being accessible. There is a fairly good search engine on the site.

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Whatever you come up with as the safest sector I say you ask the last guy who got killed in that sector how safe it was. There is risk in all sectors, I would suggest it depends more on the company you're with and how good they are at managing their specific risk that makes the difference. There are companies in every sector that have extremely low or no accicent rates and i would argue that luck had little to do with it.

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I have done a lot of sight-seeing flights, and I must say, there is nothing about the flying that is niether difficult, nor dangerous, hell, its so simple a monkey could do it. So, of course, I'm now wondering, what is it about flying tours that makes it so dangerous that there are a lot of accidents? I have a hard time believing its all 'pilot error'.

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I have done a lot of sight-seeing flights, and I must say, there is nothing about the flying that is niether difficult, nor dangerous, hell, its so simple a monkey could do it. So, of course, I'm now wondering, what is it about flying tours that makes it so dangerous that there are a lot of accidents? I have a hard time believing its all 'pilot error'.

 

There were quite a few weather related incidents in HI along with MX incidents. In the Canyon, one hot shot pilot flew an Astar full of PAX into the canyon wall while doing agressive flying.

 

A lot of or the majority of helicopter accidents ARE pilot error. There is only one or two recent accident I can think of of the top of my head that was mechanical and that was an AEL 206 blade seperation and an Astar in HI with a pitchlink problem.

 

I hate to say it but the worst enemy out there is us. Pilots are the main cause of accidents.

 

JD

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Flying sightseers shouldn't be difficult, but when you mix low-time, low-paid pilots with tourists who want excitement, and are willing to pay for it, things can get out of hand. Tours require higher weather than other operations, because they kept killing tourists in bad weather. They've also died inside volcanoes, while hovering with no forced-landing area available, and all sorts of other stupid things. The industry fought the tighter regulations tooth and nail, but the FAA had to step in, because too many tourists were being killed. When the public starts dying, the feds are going to do something, whether it will fix things or not.

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RC :P

 

 

Are you refering to RC helicopters? That may be the safest. Although not for the helicopter. I tried and crashed in less than 30 sec. BTW I know someone down here I think you might. Unless you forgot who they are. :D

 

JD

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Are you refering to RC helicopters? That may be the safest. Although not for the helicopter. I tried and crashed in less than 30 sec. BTW I know someone down here I think you might. Unless you forgot who they are. :D

 

JD

 

 

I was referring to crew safety only :) Didn't someone say something about a helicopter forfeiting its rights to respect at some point?? :P Sounds similar to my experiments with MS Sim...short-lived.

 

Forget who? :D Kidding...36 hours and counting!

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Safety is more about the pilot than the job. I think the higher rates of accidents in certain fields are more attributable to the culture than the mission. As Gomer mentioned the tour industry. They should have a very safe record, but the pilots make it unsafe. They cave to pressures to do unsafe things.

 

When I was flying EMS, I had mostly new crews because it was a new base. These guys would pressure me to do low passes after an LZ class, or come in hot like "Chuck" does. I refused and was looked at as the "lame guy". Then, one day, chuck clipped some powerlines coming in hot to an LZ. Luckily, just the stinger was damaged. I bet none of those crew members ever pressure a pilot to do anything ever again.

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Any time we leave the ground, we put ourselves at risk. Like most everybody else has said, your style of piloting and ability as a pilot is what makes a job riskier or safer. Lets not make a mistake by saying any one field is safer than another, because anything can happen at any time which can bring about a crash and injuries or death.

 

That being said, certain sectors do put you in a position to fly into terrain or have an inexperienced pilot put you at risk. EMS and CFI work would top this list. The majority of these pilots manage to do these jobs for years, even decades without an incident though. It again comes back to risk management. If you don't feel comfortable in that situation, don't fly in it!

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