Monday, January 20, 2014

Forget Drones. Helicopter Safety NTSB Priority

The National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") announced that one of its focus areas in the coming year will center on "an unacceptably high number of helicopter accidents."  Says the NTSB:
In the last ten years, 1,470 accidents occurred involving helicopters used as air ambulances, for search and rescue missions, and commercial helicopter operations such as tour flights. As a result of those crashes 477 people lost their lives and 274 were seriously injured. There is no simple solution for reducing helicopter accidents but safety improvements to address helicopter operations have the potential to mitigate risk to thousands of pilots and passengers each year.
A complete account can be accessed below and here:

What might be most interesting is how, if at all, this focus impacts the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's or "drones"). UAVs and helicopters have operational overlaps when it comes to performing so-called dirty, dull, and dangerous missions. It is an open question whether the use of UAVs in operations traditionally served by helicopters would mitigate against risks the NTSB has identified or might identify.