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Help interpreting safety statistics


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Hi folks


I’ve been working for a really great company doing crewmember work and odds & ends for a while now, and I’m starting to consider the pilot career option myself. I’ve spent time around several ships at this point, and have about 17 hours of flight training (mostly in the SIM). I’ve considered funding options, salary, and lifestyle…all of which do seem reasonable. And I’ve experienced autos and other emergency procedures, and I think those skills are within my ability. Basically I’m in love with flying, especially mountain flying, and I’d like to pursue it.


My remaining uncertainty (and that of my husband) lies in the risk factor of being a helo pilot as a career. I’ve tried to do my research, and found a few documents with statistics, and now I wonder if anyone out there can help me interpret them. I’m interested in what the numbers mean, just in terms of sheer data but I also wonder what you all, who have been working in the field all these years, think about this when you look back on your career and the people you have known. I don’t plan to fly fires or EMS, but more heli-skiing, mountain tours and mountain research station work...if that helps any.


I’ve attached some files with stats, and this is how I’ve interpreted them. (Sorry the text on that StatsSummary is so small! You'll have to increase the size after you open it) Please help, as it wouldn’t surprise me if I were way off the mark on this:


Looking at the summary for 1970-2005 helicopter accidents, it seems that in 2005 out of 2,265,000 hours flown, there were 193 accidents, 25 resulting in deaths. That would mean that there would be one accident for every 11,736 hours flown, and 1 fatality for every 90,600 hours flown. Just to get an estimate…assuming you were flying 5 hours per day (7 days per week), it would take you 18,120 days (or 50 years) before having a fatal accident. And it would take 2,400 days (or 6.5 years) before an accident of any kind. This is straight across the board. When you split it out by the type of flying, Part 135 seems to be fairly low (I’m guessing this is what I will eventually be doing??), but Flight Training/instruction is up there with the highest rates of accidents. Seems like I’d be doing that for some time trying to build hours. SO…all things considered…are we talking fender-benders in flight training here? Or is CFI really the riskiest part of the job? Do you agree that 135 is a relatively low-risk type of flying? And when you look at overall career flying, what do you think has been your level of risk?


I know this is a lot, and I don’t expect to get all my answers here, but I thought I would at least start the discussion and see where it goes. I know you all have a lot of experience and information to share, so thanks in advance.




helo_safety.pdf helo_stats.pdf StatsSummary1970_2005.pdf

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My remaining uncertainty (and that of my husband) lies in the risk factor of being a helo pilot as a career.


Statistically speaking, all pilots have had not more than one fatal accident. Also, fatal accidents only occur at the end of a pilot's career.


But seriously, I think there are statements that can be made that the experience of most career pilots would bear out as would the statistics.


Flying is inherently unforgiving of mistakes...most accidents are due to pilot error.


Commercial pilots have fewer accidents per flight hour than do recreational pilots.


The most dangerous time for a pilot is not during training but rather when he/she has acquired enough hours to become complacent.


Safe pilots never stop learning.



"As soon as we left the ground I knew I myself had to fly!" (Amelia Earhart)


Good luck

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Try working it out as Miles\Kms traveled and the Numbers looks good,

I lost a friend falling of kitchen steps , almost anything can kill you.

If you love the flying go for it :)

FRY is correct complacency\over confidence in ones own ability is the most dangerous, his last line is the thing to remember.

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