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What is causing the increase in helicopter crashes?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2022 | Helicopter Crashes

Despite a recent decline in the number of commercial airline crashes and accidents, the number of accidents faced by helicopters has actually risen in recent years.

Due to this increase, many people have started to question the safety of helicopters in general and wonder why the increase has happened in the first place.

Helicopter crash stats

Quartz takes a look at fatal helicopter accidents in recent years. In 2018 alone, the number increased by a notable amount. 2016 saw a rate of 0.54 fatalities per every 100,000 flight hours. This number jumped to 0.72 per every 100,000 flight hours in 2018. Non-fatal accidents have also seen an increase, jumping from 3.48 crashes to 3.62 per every 100,000 flight hours between 2016 and 2018.

Private helicopters have faced an even higher amount of crashes, with fatalities involving private helicopters jumping from an already high 22 percent to 29 percent.

Causes behind crashes

What are the causes behind this increase in crashes, then? Many experts point to the increase in man-made obstacles. Helicopters have a much lower flight range than commercial aircraft. This means they have to worry about natural landscape obstacles like hills, but also things like buildings and bridges.

Weather impacts helicopters to a much greater degree as well, with many of these fatal crashes happening during poor visibility situations like heavy rain or fog. Most fatalities occur during inclement weather, especially by helicopters that have no choice but to travel despite the conditions, such as rescue or medical helicopters, or police helicopters.

As the number of obstacles continues to increase, it is possible the number of crashes may also continue to increase. It is thus important to keep pilots well trained and updated on the latest safety information.