History of Helicopter Crashes Understanding the Dangers of Helicopter Accidents

The History of Helicopter Crashes

Implementing Safety into the Design

Roy G. Fox with Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. conducted extensive research into matters of helicopter accidents and safety over the years. Bell has shared some interesting factors that, regardless of the time, you will see as a trend in helicopter history.

Air travel is one of the many remarkable inventions that has come about in recent history. In the early 1940's helicopters began to take flight, and along with this new technology came many accidents. With every incident, engineers and pilots alike would learn from their mistakes and the experience, seeking to improve whatever they could. Understanding the value of safety, as well as the importance of this new technology, helicopter safety greatly improved over the years. Even though civil and military helicopters were invented, safety improvements for one often benefited both fleets.

In time, engineers have been able to develop various risk management techniques and hazard identification methods in order to warn a pilot of the helicopter's airworthiness before they take off. These new programs have allowed for accident prevention with regards to the mechanical failures of the aircraft. As techniques have been discovered over the years, the safer the fleets have become.

Accident Causes in the Early Stages

From the first flight of the helicopter until the 1960's, a common cause of helicopter accidents was due to the failure of the aircraft mechanics, very rarely including failure of the engine. It is believed that engine failure was the least likely cause of an accident because by this time in history enough development had been done for the use of an engine, whereas the idea of flying a helicopter was entirely new. When compared to other forms of aircraft, the helicopter required different forms of maintenance, and the causes of accidents varied as well. Other than simple maintenance errors, due to the earlier stages of the helicopter industry, the majority of the accidents were caused by human error or other causes that were unknown at the time.

Increased Performance in the 1960's

As more time was spent learning about the aircraft, engineers were continuing to implement great improvements on the safety of these fleets. Not only were they being designed with more efficient materials to design the plane and improve aerodynamics, the likelihood of "part failures" were significantly dropping.

Three levels of protection were decided upon for safety in helicopters:

  • Fail-proof helicopter design
  • Backup system in the event of a design or mechanical failure
  • Prevent fatal injuries for all occupants in the aircraft

Human Error as the Primary Cause of Helicopter Accidents

While countless amounts of research continue to show small numbers for airworthiness failures in helicopter accidents, the primary cause time and time again points back to human error. Research conducted by Bell Helicopter Textron shows that between the years of 1985 and 2004, about 75 percent of all accidents were due to human errors, while other concerns were divided among the remaining 25 percent. According to years of research and studies, this helicopter company learned that in nearly all human error-related accidents, poor judgment was at the root level. What then, leads to poor judgment on the part of the pilot? The primary concern is lack of training on how to handle possible accident situations or how to properly assess and respond to risks.

Recent Accident Statistics

Helicopters are used in a number of areas for travel including the military, private transportation, the news industry, air ambulance, and emergency services, among many others. The United States alone runs one half of the global helicopter fleet, and we are experiencing accidents at a far too alarming of a rate. International statistics show that over 35 percent of the helicopter accidents occur in this country alone. For every 100,000 miles traveled in flight, a helicopter has a 40 percent greatly likelihood of an accident than your average aircraft used for passengers and cargo. As accidents are continually on the rise, researchers note that in order to improve the safety on the fleet is to be more aware of what is taking place in the cockpits of the helicopters. The ability of the pilot to control the helicopter determines the safety, or lack thereof, of the occupants on board. When poor judgment is present, lives are placed at risk. Time and time again individuals are becoming the victims of human error in helicopter crashes.

Have you lost a loved one in a helicopter accident?

If you have recently lost a loved one in a helicopter accident, you are not alone. Due to the types of dangerous conditions that helicopters are in, the likelihood of accidents increase. Whether the pilot is hovering, traveling near power lines, or any other common dangers, the pilot needs to have all hands on deck. When poor conditions are combined with a negligent or otherwise incapable pilot, accidents and fatalities occur.

If you are looking for an experienced helicopter accident lawyer who can aggressively fight on your behalf, contact Arnold & Itkin LLP today. With years of trial experience and countless successful cases, our firm will work tirelessly to help you and your family obtain the compensation you deserve after the wrongful death of a loved one or personal injury. Contact us today for further information on how we can help you.

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