Not Black Hawk Down! Helicopter Crash – Part 4

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASurvivability Issues in Crash into Water

As per their analysis, Brooks et al. surmised that survival after crash in water depends upon “amount of warning time, rapidity of sinking and inversion” [13]. An advise worth following by all helicopter operators, based on this study, is that while flying over water, all occupants in helicopter must don their mae west or persoanl floatation devices [] through out the sortie duration rather than attempting to retrieve it from the aircraft which reduces chances of survival in case of crash into water. Their recommendations for safety for helicopter operations over water were as following [13]:- Continue reading

Not Black Hawk Down! Helicopter Crash – Part 3

800px-HH-65C_DolphinCrashes into Water

Flying helicopters over water has an accident rate of 2.0 per 100,000h as compared to 0.4 per 100,000h in fixed wing aircraft, as reported by Civil Aviation Authority’s helicopter airworthiness panel report in 1986 [13]. High fatality rate in case of helicopter crash into water occurs due to sinking of helicopter and inversion under water due to its high center of gravity [13, 14, 15, 16]. Flooded cockpit traps and disorients the occupants who may fail to reach escape hatches in time [14], thus resulting in high fatality, as reported by several authors:- Continue reading

Not Black Hawk Down! Helicopter Crash – Part 2

800px-Sikorsky-S92-cougar-helicopters-ilulissat-airportOffshore Oil and Gas Operations

Baker et al. reported that there were 178 helicopter crashes from 1983 to 2009 related to offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico. This was based on the database of the National Transportation Safety Board [2, 11]. 30% of those crashes were fatal, with 139 lives lost including 41 pilots. The annual accident rate was 6.6 during the period of this study. Continue reading

Not Black Hawk Down! Helicopter Crash

800px-Anakonda_NTW_9_93_3aDanger is an inherent component of military helicopter missions. Remember the daring mission launched to capture a Somalian warlord on 3rd October 1993 when an American Black Hawk (Super-Six One) was shot down in the city of Mogadishu. Another area of perilous operations is emergency medical missions and oil and gas operations. Two recent reviews highlight the accident statistics in those two types of helicopter operations [1, 2]. Interestingly the former research comes from Germany and the latter from the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading

Old Facts, New Insights – Lessons from A-320 Part 4

This interesting study by Sarter and Woods revealed that the automation surprises “occur when the crew detects that automation or aircraft behaviour is deviating from their expectations” [2]. In turn, such ‘surprises’ provide the vital opportunity (and learning) to correct unexpected or undesirable aircraft behaviour. Continue reading