USHST develops 12 rules for preflight helicopter inspections

The following guidelines and recommended practices for a helicopter preflight inspection, a final walk around, and a post-flight inspection were developed by the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) for the pilot community and all instructors. These are a dozen actions you cannot forget:

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  1. No distractions are allowed during your pre-flight inspection.
  2. Ensure that the rotor is clear and not tied down.
  3. Ensure that both main and tail rotors are clear from people when turning one or the other even when you think you are alone.
  4. Always check and secure the fuel cap(s). (And double check the fuel level.)
  5. During adverse weather conditions, take extra precautions. Conduct a thorough walk-around, panel check, and cargo check and ensure that passenger doors are secured.
  6. Use caution when stepping on aircraft surfaces, even ones with non-skid. Use two points of contact.
  7. Verify that all flight controls are in the correct position or setting before your start. (Especially the throttle setting.)
  8. If you are interrupted during your preflight, start it from the beginning. (Yes, from the beginning.)
  9. If you are the pilot in command, properly brief your passengers. Don’t let it be done only by ground operation personnel.
  10. Ensure that passengers do not wear headgear. If they do, make sure it is secured.
  11. Always conduct a final walk around after completion of the pre-flight inspection prior to getting into the aircraft. The pilot (or a trained crewmember) should always be the last person to get into the aircraft.
  12.  Conduct a post-flight inspection of the aircraft — look for fluids, panels etc.
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This list is not all-inclusive. Each recommendation can be expanded per pilot preference. For the complete USHST report on inspection guidelines and best practices, find it here: http://www.ushst.org/RISK-MANAGEMENT.

Lack of professionalism and just plain complacency causes accidents and kills pilots. Going back to basics may sound elementary, but re-focusing on these basic preflight tasks will help reduce helicopter accidents and save lives.

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