Helicopter Accidents Down 21 Percent

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The total number of helicopter accidents in the U.S. has dipped sharply in recent years but the distribution of mishaps across the various industry sectors hasn't changed according to the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team. The group did a detailed analysis of accidents from 2009-2011 and compared the data from an earlier assessment of the years 2000, 2001 and 2006 and said there was a 21 percent overall reduction in accidents between the two periods. The most dangerous helicopters continue to be those us for personal flying and the number of accidents in that category has risen to 20.7 percent of the total from a previous mark of 18.5 percent. And while the crash of a news helicopter always makes headlines, it's actually the least accident-prone sector and accounted for just .2 percent of all accidents, down from 1.7 percent in the earlier study.

Flight instruction and agricultural operations ranked second and third in total accidents (17.6 percent and 10.3 percent) and both sectors had significant increases in their accident rates (up 2.9 percent and 5.4 percent). Air tours, firefighting and logging operations all showed reductions in accidents and accounted for 5.9 percent, 3.6 percent and 2.7 percent respectively of accidents. The USHST is going to boost its efforts to improve safety in the most dangerous sectors and is already compiling data for its next report due out in 2016.