Helicopter crash: Are they still safe and are accidents increasing in number?
Helicopter crashes have hit the news recently with a number of high profile incidents causing the deaths of tourists.
Five British tourists were killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon on February 10, whilst another two tourists from the US were killed on March 22 when it crashed in Australia.
Another helicopter crash in New York on 12 March killed five passengers who were on a when it fell into the East River, with just the pilot surviving.
Whilst the crashes were in different countries with different helicopter operators, it has raised the issue of safety regarding the popular tourist activity that many trust to be safe when on holiday.
But are they still safe to fly in and are accidents increasing in number?
Once the water pressure is great enough, they won’t be able to open those doors
Following the helicopter crash in New York, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US is currently investigating the incident.
It has raised concerns of safety after one of the passengers, Brian McDaniel was a firefighter who had been trained to be able to escape from tangled ropes, yet was unable to get out of the helicopter harness.
Michael Slack, an aviation lawyer and licensed pilot told USA Today: “You’ve got to figure the odds of that guy getting out are real good depending upon seating position
“There’s either some type of issue with the restraints or not opening the door soon enough so that they can get out.
“Once the water pressure is great enough, they won’t be able to open those doors.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is all investigating the accident to find out what happened.
Helicopter crash: The New York accident is being investigated regarding the safety harnesses
Despite this, the number of helicopter crashes is not increasing in number. FAA statistics show that it fell from 3.77 accidents per 100,000 flight hours in 2015 to 3.19 in 2016.
This works out to a fall from 121 accidents, of which 17 were fatal, to 106, of which 17 were also fatal.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has a number of safety measures for helicopter flights in the UK.
This includes: “Prohibiting helicopter flights in the most severe sea conditions” so that if it does crash, it is easier to form a rescue of it.
Passengers must also only be able to fly if “they are seated next to an emergency exit window” to ensure they are able to escape in a dangerous situation.
Emergency breathing equipment must also be had onboard unless the helicopter has side floats.
Helicopter crash: The crash in New York killed five tourists in the East River
The helicopter that crashed into the Grand Canyon last month was due to a fuel system that caught fire.
Airbus Helicopters, the company behind the helicopter tour, have since confirmed they will retrofit the fleet with crash-resistant fuel systems.
An inquest has since been opened into the accident, and families of the deceased are filing a lawsuit amid claims survival could have happened if the flames were slowed.
Over £10,000 was raised in 24 hours for a pair of newlyweds, who sadly died later in hospital.
The helicopter crash in Australia is still being investigated although reports suggest the pilot may have flown too close to the water.