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Monday, July 12, 2010

IHST Discussed at S&T Summit 2010

The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) was formed in 2005 after helicopter operators agreed that the number of helicopter accidents worldwide had to be reduced.

The IHST was tasked with a goal of reducing the helicopter accident rate by at least 80 percent by 2016.

A lofty goal, yet achievable, even when considering that helicopter operations are so varied, as compared to airline operations, which are closely monitored and conducted from smooth, prepared surface.

Members include helicopter operator associations, airframe manufacturers, engine manufacturers, and regulators such as the FAA, Transport Canada, ICAO, and EASA.

The IHST formed two teams: the Joint Helicopter Safety Analysis Team (JHSAT) to analyze helicopter accident history and provide recommendations to reduce the accident rate; and, the Joint Helicopter Safety Implementation Team (JHSIT) to develop cost-effective strategies and action plans to reduce accidents.

At Rotor & Wing's Safety & Training Summit 2010, held in Denver, CO, June 8-9, 2010, Sue Gardner, IHST Program Director, FAA and Fred Brisbois, director of aviation and product safety, Sikorsky Aircraft, discussed IHST & US JHSIT initiatives an future direction, respectively.

Gandner said the IHST "is built on the principles of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team." CAST along with new aircraft, regulations and other activities, reduced the fatality risk for commercial aviation in the United States by 83 percent from 1998 to 2008.

In 2008, the JHSAT analyzed helicopter accidents that occurred in 2000. The team scrutinized 197 helicopter accidents from the database and found that a major contributing factor in most of the accidents was the failure to adequately manage known risks. Due to the lack of a systematic process, including leadership and accountability, operators did not adequately prioritize and address the risks that lead to most accidents.

Last year, the JHSAT analyzed 174 accidents from the NTSB's 2001 accident database. Significant changes were made in the methodology to improve the results of the analysis.

The IHST has produced several toolkits to assist with safety management systems (SMS), training and flight data monitoring.

The JHSAT's foremost recommendation was the need to implement a SMS for use by the helicopter industry. The JHSIT prepared a SMS toolkit to help rotorcraft operators of all sizes to understand the fundamentals of safety management.

Brisbois, US JHSIT Co-Chair, described the Helicopter Training Toolkit---designed to assist operators in developing and implementing a standard for pilot training focusing on operational specific scenarios, human factors and the use of simulators and flight training devices.

He said the JHSAT found that contributing factors in many accidents were the lack of standardized training, lack of simulator availability for single engine operations, lack of operational specific training scenarios and a lack of human factors training.

Sue Garner said a key milestone for the IHST took place in February at Heli-Expo 2010 where in a ringing endorsement of the IHST safety initiative, the chief executive officers of AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter Textron, Eurocopter and Sikorsky Aircraft signed a joint letter on Feb. 21 entitled "A Call for Action by Helicopter Owners."

The letter calls upon "all those who operate our products to implement . . . the safety enhancements recommended by the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST)." The five areas of concentration cited in the letter are: the adoption of Safety Management Systems (SMS); improvements in training; the use of advanced systems and equipment, such as flight data monitoring systems (FDM); the use of health monitoring systems; the use of mission-specific equipment, such as night vision goggles for night flying and avionics to avoid controlled flight into terrain; and, strict compliance with the manufacturer's maintenance program.

The joint letter, which will be forwarded to all helicopter owners and operators, was signed by Giuseppi Orsi for AgustaWestland, Jeffrey Pino for Sikorsky Aircraft, A Dr. Lutz Bertling for Eurocopter and John Garrison for Bell Helicopter Textron.

The next major event for the IHST is the International Helicopter Safety Symposium 2010.

The European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST) will host the Fourth International Helicopter Safety Symposium (IHSS) October 3- 4, 2010 at the Hotel Cascais Miragem in Estoril, Portugal. The inaugural IHSS was held in Montreal in September 2005.

On Day 1 of IHSS 2010, many regional partners will discuss their transition from data analysis to setting up regional JHSITs to begin implementing, delivering and monitoring real world safety interventions in regions around the world.

In addition, the International Helicopter Safety Team Executive Committee will brief on the overall progress worldwide to reduce both military and civilian helicopter accident rates. Participants will have the opportunity to identify and share "best practices" among the Regional JHSATs and the JHSIT committees. In addition, prospective international Regional Teams will be able to listen to the methods used and receive templates for future activities.

Day 2 includes workshops on training, SMS, helicopter flight data monitoring and crew resource management. A plenary session will follow.

EHEST is a partnership between industry and EASA and its members include helicopter OEMs, civil operators, regulators, helicopter interest groups, accident investigators and military operators from across Europe.

The team has developed an organization adapted to Europe, including a central strategic team (EHEST), an analysis core team (EHAST) and Regional Teams including the United Kingdom, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, France, Nordic countries, Ireland and others. The Regional Analysis Teams cover more than 90 percent of the European civil helicopter fleet.

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