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The U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) has released an extensive “Recommended Practice” document which suggests training scenarios that will mitigate risk and improve aviation decision making. The training lesson plans in the document identify and describe numerous fatal helicopter accidents that involve some aspect showing a lack of sound aviation decision making that placed the aircraft in an “at risk” situation.
The “at risk” situation either caused or was a contributing factor to the fatal accident. They included:
- Loss of rotor RPM in autorotation
- Loss of tail rotor effectiveness
- Spatial disorientation
- Unintended flight in IMC
- Low altitude wire strike
- Low altitude engine failure
The Recommended Practice document applies to all persons conducting helicopter flight training or private and commercial helicopter operations, including certificated airman, Certified Flight Instructors, Designated Pilot Examiners, Training Center Evaluators and FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors. Simulator training providers in Evidence Based Training or other syllabi may use these scenario guidelines as the basis to improve aviation decision making.
The document also offers instructors guidelines for building each training scenario:
- Discuss the details of the accident scenario in a classroom environment allowing the student through self-discovery and if required, guided discussion points to identify errors made and how the accident could have been avoided.
- Set the scenario before the preflight brief. Set up the flight training event based on the accident scenario.
- Adapt accident aircraft specific parameters to relevant aircraft make and model.
- Set accident matching parameters. For example: weather, time of day, passengers, fuel, weight, balance and performance allowing the student to determine the performance parameters.
- Witness and assist with scenario setting during the preflight brief.
- Allow the scenario to develop along the same lines as the matching accident.
- Be prepared to use regression to “wind back” the scenario to emphasize actions taken or not completed based on the outcome of the exercise.
- Debrief and discuss the scenario in detail to ensure maximum learning.
The Recommended Practice document and its five Annex documents with crash scenarios can be found on the USHST website on the Enhanced Training page: http://ushst.org/ENHANCED-TRAINING.
It can also be found within the “Resources” page on the International Helicopter Safety Foundation website: http://ihsf.aero/index.php/resources/
Detailed information about all of proposed USHST safety enhancements aimed at reducing the number of fatal accidents can be found on the USHST website. The enhancements are organized into five safety categories: Visibility and Loss of Control, Risk Management, Enhanced Training, Technology Support and Pilot Competency.
Each year, the U.S. helicopter industry safely flies more than 3.2 million flight hours. Working together, we can build on that safe record and eliminate the small number of accidents that do occur.