U.S. helicopter accident rate levels off during 2017: USHST

Accident rates for the U.S. civil helicopter industry flattened out during 2017, but remained well below accident totals from three and four years ago. Preliminary data shows that the 2017 accident rate was 3.55 per 100,000 flight hours, compared to an accident rate in 2016 of 3.45.

The above graph shows the U.S. helicopter accident rate.
The above graph shows the U.S. helicopter accident rate. USHST Image
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This 3 percent increase stems from a few months during 2017 with uncharacteristically high accident totals — 18 accidents in February and 23 accidents in July. Compared to four years ago, however, the accident rate has been cut by one-third.

The fatal accident rate also rose slightly year-over-year, but remained lower than the 2017 goal set by the United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST).

Total accident rate:

  • 2017: 3.55
  • 2016: 3.45
  • 2015: 3.67
  • 2014: 4.26
  • 2013: 4.95

Fatal accident rate:

  • 2017: 0.59
  • 2016: 0.54
  • 2015: 0.52
  • 2014: 0.65
  • 2013: 1.02

Annual goals:

  • 2017: 0.69
  • 2016: 0.73

Comparing 2017 with 2013 (when the USHST industry-government partnership was created), total civil helicopter accidents have decreased by 17 percent and fatal accidents have been cut by 33 percent.

Total U.S. accidents

  • 2013: 146 accidents, 30 fatal accidents, 62 fatalities
  • 2014: 138 accidents, 21 fatal accidents, 37 fatalities
  • 2015: 121 accidents, 17 fatal accidents, 28 fatalities
  • 2016: 108 accidents, 17 fatal accidents, 29 fatalities
  • 2017: 121 accidents, 20 fatal accidents, 34 fatalities

Compared to 2013: 17 percent decrease in accidents. 

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The above graph shows the U.S. helicopter fatal accident rate versus the goal.
The above graph shows the U.S. helicopter fatal accident rate versus the goal. USHST Image

Reducing fatal accidents even further is a central USHST aim. From 2016 through 2019, the USHST is focusing major attention on reducing fatal accidents within the U.S. civil helicopter community.

The industry-government partnership is targeting a reduction by 2019 to 0.61 fatal accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The fatal accident rate goal for 2017 was 0.69 or lower, and for 2018, it is 0.65.

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