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Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference

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This is pretty good stuff.


HSAC Members:  March 3, 2005

Please find attached the Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference (HSAC) "2004 Gulf of Mexico Offshore Helicopter Operations and Safety Review".  The membership support and response from 22 helicopter operators for this review is not only appreciated, but vital in establishing a meaningful report.  Continued support is encouraged for the future.


 The 2004 Gulf of Mexico oil industry helicopter accident rate per 100,000 flight hours was 2.77 with a total of 10 accidents (9 single engine, 1 medium twin) compared to a 21-year annual average accident rate of 1.88 with a total of 9.1 accidents/year. The fatal accident rate per 100,000 flight hours during 2004 was 1.11 with a total of 4 fatal accidents (15 fatalities) compared to a 21-year average of 0.71 with a total of 2.8 fatal accidents/year.


 This was the worst year for fatalities in the 21 years since we began gathering data. The 4 fatal accidents were caused by: 2 unknown (1 at night), 1 each helideck obstacle strike and controlled flight into water.


 During 2004, improper pilot procedures and technical fault each accounted for 4 (40%) or 8 of the 10 accidents.  2 accidents have an unknown final cause and 2 occurred at night.


In the last 5 years, there have been 48 accidents of which 16 were fatal (33%), resulting in 32 fatalities and 40 injuries.  25 (52%) of these accidents were due to pilot procedure related causes and 14 (29%) were due to technical fault.  For technical accidents, there were the 9 engine related events, 4 tail rotor events, a 1 main drive shaft failure.  13 of the 48 accidents (27%) were related to events around the helideck (5 each loss of control and obstacle strikes, 2 passenger control, and 1 tie-down removal). The specific leading causes of accidents in the last 5 years have been:



9 (19%) engine related - with 4 fatalities


8 (17 %) loss of control or improper procedure with 1 fatality


5 (10%) controlled flight into terrain or water - 2 occurred at night - with 8 fatalities


4 (8%) helideck obstacle strikes with 4 fatalities


3 (6%) tail rotor failures


3 (6%) fuel management


3 (6%) loose cargo striking tail rotor


3 (6%) unknown causes with 12 fatalities (1 night with 10 fatalities)


3 (6%) fuel quality control



 Note - Although night flight accounts for less than 3% of the GoM flight hours, in the last five years, the 4 night accidents accounted for 8% of the total accidents and 38% of total fatalities (12 of 32 total). 3 of the 4 events were fatal.


HSAC has published a number of Recommended Practices to address these issues and they can be reviewed at www.HSAC.org.  We are optimistic that by sharing this information with all operators and other oil industry group's, safety initiatives may be developed and implemented to reduce accidents and incidents.






Bob Williams


Industry Liaison Committee Member

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